Janis Sallinger Saunders
Date of Passing:
Saunders, Janis Sallinger, loving mom, grandmom, wife, sister and friend to many, has begun her next adventure. Born on March 11, 1944 to Marguerite Marie Sallinger (maiden name Rogers) and John James Peter Sallinger in Wellesley, MA. The fourth of six children, she’s survived by her two elder sisters Margaret Brown & Barbara Donlon and joins her younger siblings on the other side of the veil, Jackie, Martha & Paul Sallinger.
She was a woman with many sides and so it’s fitting that she had many nicknames! To her friends she was Jan, Janny or Jan3is. (A little known fact, she sometimes spelled Janis with a silent 3. Jan3is.) To her family, especially her numerous grandkids, she was variously Nanan, Nanny Beans and often just plain Beanie or Beans.
Janny was the proud mother of three children with Alan Mitchell: Roderick, Alexander and Juliana. Rod is predeceased by his wife, Patti (daughter-in-love to Jan), and is father to Ben and Pete Mitchell. Alex, father of Max and Toby Mitchell, (mother Kiki Nardacci) and wife Laura Mitchell and children, Geoffrey, Katherine and Christopher Licciardello. Juliana, is married to Travis Stroessenreuther. Janny called all her children’s spouses her son-in-love or daughters-in-love!
Wife and companion of Gregory C. Saunders, she met Pops (as he is often called) in court while she was practicing law and he was a court officer. They shared passions for Jazz, family, food (especially drinks and seafood looking out over the ocean) and trips to Montreal, where they wed in 2009. She is survived by him and his children: Deborah, Nina, Robin, Richard, “Big” Keita, GreggAnne, Danita, Gregory II and Kenyatta. Beans enjoyed a special connection to Pops’ grandchildren; Danita Moment’s son Cole Moment, Robin Saunder’s son & daughter Wayne and Raven Whyles, “Big” Keita Freeman’s son and daughter Keita Tyrel and Kasimira Freeman, and Kenyatta Saunder’s daughters Ananda and Aryeh Saunders.
A lover of animals, Janny is also survived by her kitty Tariq and her standard poodle Little Debbie.
From her earliest years, Nanan adored music and dancing. In high school she was even chosen to dance the jitterbug at a school assembly. Her passion for dancing didn’t limit her dedication to learning, upon graduation she was among the honor roll students to deliver portions of her Berlin High School’s commencement speech. According to her sister Margaret, during these teen years Beanie loved going to mass. While according to report cards and old newspaper articles, she got stellar grades, played sports, and served on both the student council and student newspaper.
Her great love of reading and learning would lead to her earning a BA from Boston University (where her mom Marguerite was Dean), a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University (while raising her rowdy kids as a single mom in Barrington, RI) and eventually an advanced degree in Law & Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
But learning was not something she only did in the classroom; Beanie traveled and lived in many places. Besides living in California, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, she also lived for a time in each of Istanbul, Turkey, in St. Croix and in Taipei, Taiwan (where incidentally she wrote for a newspaper called The Free China Journal); and learned many languages along the way (French, Mandarin, and a bit of Spanish, Turkish and German). But in truth these travels facilitated her greatest passion which was connecting with humans, as she amassed an ever growing world wide web of friends.
Having passed the bar in both Rhode Island and Massuchesstts, Nanny Beans started out in family law. In the 80s, early in her career, a case of hers (involving protecting the privacy of rape victims) garnered significant media attention. Despite her brush with notoriety, she learned that a less litigious law fit her temperament. Thus she turned to wills and probates, as well as acting as legal guardian to people needing court-appointed support. This guardianship work, which for her was love-centric work, resonated deeply. She derived great meaning from caring thoughtfully and well for these clients. Her rich and long career in law included having her own practice (Sallinger & Barrett Law Offices), working for Legal Services in St. Croix, the US Virgin Islands (where she also passed the bar), traveling in China to study remote sensing as a part of her Fletcher degree and even presenting a paper a few years back at a superior court in Bulgaria on ‘Self Determination at End of Life’. As it happens, the media-grabbing case we mentioned earlier would eventually be made into a bad, made for tv movie called Sins of Silence. Jan3is was quite appalled by the film.
Another topic of greatest importance to Jan was social justice, class and race equity. She saw the imbalances in the world keenly and demanded that others pay attention too, not infrequently yelling at the tv, or insisting to others, “This conversation is incomplete without class and race analysis!” This was something she sought to educate herself and others on until, literally, the end of her days.
Never a dull moment, she variously sang with and loved her choir, weaved on a massive loom, saw tons of films, practiced yoga and added in zumba in her later years. Beans also cherished gardening and making her home beautiful.
The list goes on. What else? She loved dirty jokes. She loved to laugh. She adored shocking people.
But above all, her super power was her ability to shine love on others. Janis had a luminous heart – she loved beyond fiercely.
Beanie showed love to her friends and family in part through her cooking; oh could she cook! And she delighted in it. But she also really, really enjoyed eating. Eating and sharing a beautiful meal with loved ones was one way she celebrated life. Her three kids fondly remember when they were small and times were lean, momma Jan would cook up her “spiced glup”; a delicious version of “kitchen sink” fried rice. Everyone gathered noisily and happily at the table. So many delicious memories.
Her profound love was also expressed in enumerable ways. But in short, she just really had a knack – no, honestly, a superpower – for making people feel they were the most important person in the world to her. When Janis Ann Sallinger shined the light of her loving attention on you, you were in a spotlight of transformative love. She impacted people and the world through the most important force known to human-kind: love. Janny loved. And through her living, she taught us how to love. She in turn was so very, very loved.
Please know this: If the many, many of us touched by her life and death care to go forth and love through her example, she will indeed be alive forever.
Please join us on Saturday, November 6th at The Watson Funeral Home, located at 350 Willet Ave in Riverside, RI from 11am-12 for receiving and connecting, followed by a 12-1pm Memorial. Next we’ll convene at The Wharf Tavern located at 215 Water St in Warren RI from 1:30-3:30pm for appetizers and drinks.
For those who wish to send flowers, please note that Nanny Beans asked for all white flowers.