"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

Janai Symons

Tuesday, December 3, 1963
Friday, April 21, 2023
Ann Arbor, MI
Service Information: 
The celebration of Janai's life will be Monday, May 1, 4 pm at First Congregation Church in Bellingham - 2401 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225. Light refreshments will follow in the church hall. We hope to arrange a Facebook livestream. Livestreaming details can be found here: https://fb.me/e/TYg6n1xG

Janai Symons passed away in her sleep on April 21, 2023. She was survived by her husband, Larry, her father, Jim Powell, her stepmother, April Hoffman, her two sisters, Jennifer Ernst and Julene Zizza, and her children, Alex, Erik, Megan, Shane, Tennel and Brynna and her two grandchildren, Linden and Benji. She was predeceased by her son Anthony, and her mother Judy Powell.
Janai was born Dec. 3, 1963 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and moved to Alaska 6 months later.  She graduated with honors from West Anchorage High School (1982), Whitman College (1986) and Willamette Law School (1989) where she was on law review.  She clerked for the Washington Supreme Court.  She practiced with the Seattle firm of Preston, Gates & Ellis where she worked on the Exxon Valdez litigation. After several years as an attorney, Janai decided she wanted to work in a way that better helped people. As a result, she obtained a degree in Library Sciences and Information Technology from University of Washington. She worked as a reference librarian for Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College and eventually became Deputy State Law Librarian for the State of Alaska. After returning to Washington State, she eventually became a Research Compliance Officer for Western Washington University and was responsible for reviewing the ethics of research at the university. She worked in this role until her retirement in 2022.
Janai was a committed mother to all her children. She spent many hours at playing fields and in gyms watching a wide variety of sports. She became a stepmother to four children and loved them all dearly. More recently, she became a grandmother – a role that suited her demeanor perfectly. She helped with babysitting and doted upon the grandchildren at every opportunity.
Janai’s love also was evident in her relationship with her husband, Larry. The two of them would go on Saturday adventures with Larry looking for the perfect photo, while she rode shotgun withher latest book.
Janai had a beautiful smile and was a friend to all who met her. She will be missed by all.

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Friederike cook on

As I write this I'm crying.  It strikes me that Janai probably would never have guessed how deeply she touched so many lives.  I will always miss her and hold her dear to my thoughts.  

Submitted by Kecia Oakley on

My heart goes out to Janai's Family and Friends! I was fortunate to go to school with her from 6th to 12th Grade and Graduated with Janai in 1982. She was always kind! Good to hear she did Family and work so well! No words can express my sorrow of your loss! <3 HUGS! ~Kecia

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