WESTERLO — Janet Studnicki was up for anything — simple or daring — so long as it was with friends or family.
Janet A. Slattery Studnicki, formerly of Troy, died on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, surrounded by her family at her home, after a courageous battle with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. She was 61.
In her work in the state tax department and in various community groups, Ms. Studnicki was friendly to anyone and dedicated to relationships throughout her life. She made many friends and was known as a talker and a care-taker.
“She always put herself last,” said her daughter, Tanya Kane. “Everybody else came first.” One of her last concerns was that her family and friends take care of one another.
It was a trait bred of the family in which she grew up in Troy, where she was proud to have roots.
Ms. Studnicki was born in Troy on Oct. 29, 1951 to Daniel J. and Anne Doud Slattery. The family wasn’t wealthy, said her partner and soulmate, Roland Tozer; they rode the bus through Troy. Her mother worked for the state museum and came from a large family, he said, and Ms. Studnicki had one older brother and one younger. Her father worked for General Electric.
“Our grandmother used to invite people over — either people she worked with or people she knew — that didn’t really have as much, and she would invite them over for holiday meals,” said Cara Salvi, Ms. Studnicki’s daughter.
“She would pack up extra clothes and things that my uncles and my mom didn’t wear anymore,” she said.
The Slatterys lived in the Albia section of Troy. Ms. Studnicki graduated from the Sacred Heart School in 1966 and from Catholic Central High School in 1970.
After high school, Ms. Studnicki worked for two years at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Menands, then at the Samaritan Hospital’s Personnel Department in Troy. She spent the rest of her career working in data entry at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
She may have had opportunities to rise into a more supervisory role in her career, Mr. Tozer said, but she wanted to keep her life simple.
“On a beautiful day, we’d just go out and sit in the swing for a while or take a walk,” he said.
Her daughters remembered their mother playing with them and their Barbie dolls tirelessly; taking them to and watching them through 20 years of dance recitals; and listening to them as fourth-graders while they butchered playing the flute. She lit up when she heard of or talked about her grandchildren, her family said.
Ms. Studnicki was creative in her care. She made pizzas, sewn doll clothes, and chocolates for others. Pizzas were a regular treat she would bring to meetings with the Brunswick Elks Dart League.
“She had a tradition of making candy for all different members of the family. Chocolates,” said Mr. Tozer. “And, every Christmas holiday, she would make little packets of candy to give to special people. She knew everyone’s favorite, and she enjoyed doing that.”
When she moved to Westerlo to live with Mr. Tozer, he said, Ms. Studnicki served lunches at the Hiawatha Grange Hall. She joined the historical society and brought food to neighbors who needed it.
“I was always proud of her because she fell right into Westerlo in her true fashion and made many friends while she was here,” said Mr. Tozer.
Ms. Studnicki met Mr. Tozer line dancing around nine years ago.
He played the accordion and she danced the polka. He inspired her love for the instrument. Ms. Studnicki listened to country music and was a facile country western line dancer. She could approach someone, Mr. Tozer said, and say “Hey, why don’t you get up and dance?”
When Ms. Studnicki and Mr. Tozer met, they both had divorced after long marriages and had taken care of their parents.
“Since she got this multiple myeloma two years ago, she was an excellent patient in that, and I think it came from her experience on the other end of the care giver spectrum,” said Mr. Tozer.
She enjoyed shoveling snow and brought a snow blower when she moved to live with Mr. Tozer in Westerlo, he said. But she had always complained that his shovels were too heavy.
Mr. Tozer recalled one Valentine’s Day when he was scrambling to think of a gift for Ms. Studnicki. He was working in Albany and ducked into a drugstore to look for candy. There was a rack of light, plastic snow shovels. He bought one, along with electrical tape to put her name on the shovel as a Valentine’s gift.
“Jan really appreciated that; she thought that was a great gift and this is just the right kind of shovel,” said Mr. Tozer.
Ms. Studnicki was a communicant of St. John the Baptist Church in Greenville and formerly a communicant of Our Lady of Victory Church in Troy.
She had a circle of seven other friends who called themselves “the Lake Placid Crew.” They took annual trips to Lake Placid, and went on overnight trips to go shopping.
Mr. Tozer remarked that Ms. Studnicki could buy the same blouse in different colors.
“Because it fit and it was comfortable, and why not have it in multiple colors? For the right price. It had to be the right price,” said Ms. Kane.
The Lake Placid Crew knew each other for more than 20 years through the Brunswick Elks Lodge Ladies’ Auxilliary, of which Ms. Studnicki was once president and a member of its golf league.
Ms. Studnicki made many trips to places like the Caribbean, Bermuda, Arizona, New Mexico Colorado, and Florida. Anything another person wanted to do, she would, her family said. She was willing to try anything.
She went once with Mr. Tozer to Jiminy Peak, a ski resort in Vermont, to attend a wedding.
“After the wedding it was getting to be dusk and we decided we were going to go down the ‘Alpine Slide,’ I think they called it,” Mr. Tozer recalled. “We were the last ones, and we went up the ski lift, and we were getting toward the top, but all of a sudden the ski lift stopped. The sun was going down and it was getting colder.”
The lift began again after more than 15 minutes, and the two slid down the hill side-by-side in small sleds.
“I was looking over at her and she tucked her dress between her legs and she was leaning forward and we were going fast,” said Mr. Tozer.
“Her hair was flying and she had a determined look on her face and I have this image of her and it was just something special between us.”
Janet A. Slattery Studnicki is survived by her two daughters, Cara Salvi and her husband, Kenny, and Tanya Kane and her husband, Tom; six grandchildren, Jake, Taegen, Tommy, Andrew, Teresa, and Taryn; a brother, Daniel J. Slattery and his wife, Pat; two sisters-in-law, Connie Slattery and Hollis Resnick and her husband, Jim; five nieces and nephews; her former husband, James Studnicki; a mother-in-law, Joan “Ba” Studnicki; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Her brother, Michael Slattery, died before her.
Relatives and friends are invited to the wake and may call at the funeral home on Friday, from 4 until 8 p.m. The funeral will be on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. from the Daniel D. Purcell Funeral Home, 510 Pawling Ave. at Parkview Court, Troy and at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Victory Church, Troy where the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated. Interment will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy.
Memorial contributions in Ms. Studnicki’s memory may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Ave., fifth floor, Norwalk, CT 06851 or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
— Marcello Iaia