Family and friends gathered at a neighborhood watering hole on Aug. 29 to raise a glass to Janet Meseroll Simmons, 90, an FFRF member who died in Lakewood, Colo., on Aug. 15 from cardiac arrest.
Janet was born in Metuchen, N.J., on Sept. 2, 1930. She graduated from Metuchen High School, completed a two-year course in secretarial studies at the Katharine Gibbs School in New York City, and then moved to Washington, D.C.
In 1952, she crisscrossed the United States in style while working as the assistant press secretary on the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidential campaign. At the conclusion of the campaign, she moved to Colorado.
Before marrying David L. Simmons, Janet worked various jobs in what were then the small, seasonal mountain towns of Black Hawk and Central City. After marriage, Janet was a stay-at-home mother for 11 years, but was quite active in local Democratic politics, volunteered as a “room mother” when her children were in elementary school, read voraciously, and enjoyed opera, jazz and theater.
When Janet returned to the workforce as the assistant to a C-suite executive in a development firm, her desk was sometimes in a construction trailer and sometimes in a well-appointed office suite. Eventually, the job took her to Los Angeles, where she continued to work until retirement.
After retirement, she settled in as a dedicated volunteer in the Western History Department of the Denver Public Library. Janet’s gift for organization, making order out of chaos, and careful record keeping were put to good use by the library. Concerned she could no longer move file boxes of documents and not wanting to be a nuisance, she ended her volunteer work when she was 88.
Janet then decided she wanted to live around people her own age, so she sold her condominium and moved into an independent living facility just before Covid-19 hit. The facility locked down and Janet reveled in long days of reading, listening to opera, and frequent phone conversation with family.
It was during this time she discovered FFRF. Always a freethinker, Janet delighted in the arrival of Freethought Today, the content of which became a staple in her conversations with daughter Tracy.
Janet is survived by three children and five grandchildren. Her intelligence, humor and adventuresome spirit are missed by those who knew her. Here’s a toast to a freethinker and a woman ahead of her time!