Obituary: Janet Makaris, 1952-2018 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Janet Makaris, 1952-2018

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Janet Makaris
  • Janet Makaris

Huntington

Janet Elizabeth Makaris, née Nicholas, of Huntington passed away on September 5 after a brief illness. She was 66.

Janet was predeceased by her parents, Walter and Euphemia, and her younger brother Steven. The Nicholas brood, complete with youngest brother Bobby, grew up in the rough, eccentric Brooklyn of the '50s and '60s. It was a point of pride for Janet that she hailed from the same neighborhood as one Bernie Sanders, a connection she relished during her work on his 2016 presidential campaign. Janet came from a Brooklyn of hippies, beatniks and every countercultural stripe, and she always loved seeing one of her own make it big.

This quirky, embracing ethos buoyed Janet all her life and fueled her greatest adventures. An impromptu move to Cambridge, Mass., in 1979 led her to Arthur Makaris, with whom she eloped the following year. Both explorers by nature, the newlyweds pursued their wanderlust for the next several years, living in Florida, New York, Virginia and finally Vermont. Janet fell in love with tai chi, a discipline she would teach for more than 30 years. Her own gentleness and deliberation met their match in the ancient art. Janet was an old and unconditionally loving soul; her life's work of helping others find their breath was all too fitting.

Janet and Arthur moved to Vermont in 1986, after a double rainbow over the Green Mountains called their names. Janet always looked for signs. She spoke the universe's language, and she knew how and when to listen. She listened to Arthur and to their daughter, Sierra Skye, and knew just how to make them happy. She filled Sierra's childhood with stories, songs and unconditional acceptance — not to mention a constant supply of sweets. Janet's instinct for flavor was nigh unparalleled; her cakes were sought all over the state. Through her home business, Sunflower Bakery, she produced themed confections for every occasion, engineered precisely to prompt a smile. That was Janet's raison d'etre: brightening days, healing wounds and watching the clouds part. Her artistic endeavors, be they cake or canvas, warmed every room.

Even as she aged, Janet never gave in to boredom. She became active in progressive politics, bringing cookies and other sweet treats to her fellow phone bankers and women's marchers. Last year, she realized a longtime dream of building a backyard labyrinth. Janet's engagement with the world was earnest to a fault. Whatever she did, she did with wit, verve and her trademark purple beret.

Valhalla, in Norse mythology, is known as the "hall of warriors": the final sanctuary for those slain in battle. What the Vikings forgot is that there are many ways to fight. The grace and presence with which Janet approached her life and her final illness, the way she both challenged and accepted, will surely earn her a place of legend. Welcome to Valhalla, Mom. We'll miss you.

Please join us for a celebration of Janet’s life on Saturday, December 1, 1-4 p.m., at the All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne, Vt.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Janet's name to the McClure Miller VNA Respite House in Colchester, Vt.

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