Janet Prior and her husband Charlie moved into Cypress Cove on April 12, 1999, just one week after opening day. As she told Lucinda Henry in a 2012 Cove Currents article, “It was one of the best decisions we ever made. We had a big extended family right from the start.” Now, 23 years later, and currently residing at the Inn, Janet still stands by that statement.
A native of Terre Haute, Indiana, Janet attended Wiley High School where she was active in the chorus. One of her favorite memories from high school is when her madrigal group won first place in a choral competition in Flint, Michigan. After graduating from high school, she attended Indiana State University with the intention of becoming a teacher, but the war intervened. In her junior year, she left college to join the Women’s Auxiliary Voluntary Enlistment Services (WAVES). She was assigned to the hospital corps at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where her duties included caring for sailors exposed to infectious diseases.
The decision to join the WAVES aroused Janet’s interest in physical therapy. After serving her time in the Navy, she attended the University of Illinois as a first step toward becoming a physical therapist. Following graduation, she completed her training in physical therapy at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Upon graduating from Barnes, she went on to treat polio patients in Monroe, North Carolina and then at the University Hospital in Cleveland.
Janet met her husband Charlie at a church dance. As she told Lucinda in her 2015 interview, “Charlie used to say I fell at his feet.” Janet confirmed that wasn’t far from the truth. She was dancing a Polka, and at the end of the number, her partner failed to catch her. She lost her balance and fell right in front of Charlie. Before long, they started dating and were married five years later. They settled in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio where they raised their daughter Nancy and son David. Sadly, a second daughter, Emily, died from crib death. In addition to keeping up with her children’s activities, Janet also worked caring for patients at a local hospital.
In the 1960s, Charlie joined the DuPont Company and the family moved to Delaware, where they remained until Charlie retired in 1982. According to Janet, one of the highlights of their family life was taking trips out west to visit Yosemite, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Over the years, Janet and Charlie managed to get to all fifty states!
After the children were grown, Janet and Charlie moved to Florida due to health challenges Charlie was facing. Eventually, based on the recommendation of friends, they moved to Cypress Cove. When Charlie passed away in 2003, Janet found great comfort in the support from her extended Cypress Cove family, and she kept herself busy with social and volunteer activities. “I believe it is very important to keep busy and do for others,” Janet told Lucinda. “When you think of others, you are less inclined to dwell on your own concerns.”
The list of volunteer work Janet did is varied and extensive. It includes serving on the Resident Council; working at the Main Street Market, which was known as the Emporium back then; assisting visitors and answering the phone at the Nurses Station in the Inn; teaching English as a Second Language to staff members; calling Bingo at the Lodge; and sewing Caps for Kids.
As she approaches her 100th birthday, Janet is settled in at The Inn, where she laughingly admits her daily routine isn’t as interesting as it used to be. Although her days as the ultimate volunteer are over, Janet still enjoys socializing with her extended family at The Inn, and, with the help of her motorized scooter, is able to occasionally attend special events at The Harbour.