Janis Sallinger Saunders

Date of Passing:

November 1, 2021

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.

Online Condolences

18 Comments

  1. What an absolutely beautiful remembrance. I never had the honor of meeting Jan3is in person, but her life is clearly shining through all those she touched. May she rest in peace having flourished so beautifully on planet Earth. Wishing my dear friend Jewels and her entire family and all Jan’s friends much peace and comfort during this time.

  2. I had the blessing to sing in Chorus of East Providence with Jan, and to watch a movie with her one day when we were at the home of our director. Jan brought sunshine into my eyes with her beautiful smile and constant kindness. She is so missed. In Loving, and prayers, Elissa Emerson

  3. Jani has been a bright light in my life since the late 1960s when I met her in Istanbul. We spoke on the phone several times recently. She will always continue to shine in my heart. Bob and I knew her wonderful children, Rod, Alexi, and Juli. as they were growing up. We send our warm thoughts and gratitude for Jani’s life to her family. And we send special greetings to Greg, whose company we have enjoyed. Sally and Bob Fesler

  4. I am very saddened to learn of Jan’s passing. She was a woman who could look into your soul and shine the light of love inside. I wish her well on her next adventure for it is certain that she is already on her way.

  5. My sympathy to Jan Salinger and her family. I too sang with Jan in the Chorus of East Providence and traveled with her on tour in Ireland. She was a pleasant soul, always well-intentioned, and had a gentle nature in her ways. She will be missed.

  6. Our deepest sympathies to your family. Beans will always have a special place in our hearts.
    We love you, Beans!
    A bright light is now in a special place in heaven.
    Love-
    The Petries

  7. I attended Berlin Memorial school with Janis in the 1950’s and always thought of her as my first real crush.
    She was smart, curious and fun to be with. Her nickname then was Jenny. She was involved in all the activities of the time and was someone who was going to participate in life.

  8. Jan has left behind a legacy of Love. It is seen in her beautiful children. They are all so gracious and loving just as she was. I still have the “mom to mom” monogramed handkerchief she gave me on our children’s wedding day. The Christmas ornament she gave me will always grace my tree. She will always be a special memory in my heart.

  9. Love and hugs to Jan’s family, we will all miss her so much. She was a delightful, loving and giving person who knew how to listen . She worked so hard to help those who needed her skills. She adored her kids and grandkids, and great grandkids. She depended on Greg’s steadying hand and reached out with love to his family as her own. Her generosity was huge, and she was tactful and gracious and funny. She accomplished a lot, and gave a lot, and loved a lot. What a beautiful spirit!

  10. Dear Roddy, Alexi and Julie and your families and to Janis’ husband Gregory,

    We are so sorry for your loss of your mom, grandmother and wife. Janis was our “back door” neighbor for many years while bringing up you children and it was always an interesting conversation with her when we chatted in our back yards. She was just such a great, fun neighbor and was envied for her ambition. We saw how determined she was to further her education when her children were young and it amazed us how she could do all of that and become a lawyer when life could be a struggle. Your tribute to her is beautiful and told the story of who Janis was and how many lives she touched. May you find peace and comfort in your wonderful memories. You were fortunate to have such a strong mom as a role model.

  11. My deepest sympathy to Greg and Jan’s children. Jan was one of the kindness people I have ever met. She will be greatly missed.

  12. I kew Janice in the late 70’s early 80’s through a mutual friend on Methyl Street on the east side of Providence. What a wonderful woman she was and what a beautiful tribute to a life well lived you have given us in this amazing obituary. I am deeply sorry for your loss and the world’s loss of such a magnificent woman. She is, for sure “on to her next adventure” but, oh, how she will be missed.

  13. I do not know you or your family. But I read the obituary in paper, and i wish i got to me this wonderful woman.

  14. I am still in shock that Aunt Jan has gone to heaven. She was such a vibrant person with boundless energy taking up ballet as an adult and traveling the world. I remember visits to her (your) home as a child and going to the beach. She took me to Chinatown in Boston. She attended our wedding in 1984. She visited with my family at a couple of our homes in Orlando. I will miss the conversations we have had over the phone. My heart breaks for all of you. I am so sorry for your loss. Love to you.

  15. My deepest condolences to Janis’ entire family. She welcomed me into her home my first summer back stateside as a teen. I was fortunate to feel like one of her own that summer. I remember visiting her in St. Croix years later. Nothing but wonderful memories of a beautiful person. Rest in Peace cousin.

  16. Our deepest condolences we are deeply sad for your loss 😔 she was a vivacious brilliant elegant beautiful person she will be deeply missed

  17. I’m so very sorry for your loss, Rod, Alexie, Julianna and Greg. My deepest condolences to you all.

  18. My deepest sympathy to the family of Jan Sallinger Saunders. I knew Jan from singing with her in the Chorus Of East Providence. I found her to be a very sweet and kind lady. She was with us as we traveled to Ireland to sing in different cathedral’s, and I was able to get to know her a little better then. I found her to be a very lovely lady. RIP Jan, you will be missed. 👏👏👏👏👏

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