Janice Eleanor McCallie, left this earth on Jan. 1, 2022 on her own terms, with her wits about her and directing those caring for her with firm decisiveness. A woman raised at a time when much of your life was determined by your parents’ and your husband’s decisions and a culture that said to put others before yourself, she was determined to run the latter part of her life as she wished, including her death.
Janice was born Nov. 6, 1939, the youngest child to Jessie Eleanor (Wilson) Bogardus and Guy Lester Bogardus. The younger sister to her older brother, Guy Elwin Bogardus and older sister Carolyn Jeanne (Bogardus) Wagner. One of Jan’s favorite memories to talk about were rides with her big brother on his motorcycle through the streets of Pennsylvania. Janice was 13 years old by the time the polio epidemic reached its peak in the 1950s. In an interview with her granddaughter, Rachael Pavlich, Janice described the growing concern her mother had as the epidemic continued and how she began to forbid her and her siblings from spending time in certain parts of town, go near hospitals, go swimming in public beaches or pools and to always be accompanied by her brother and even began to hold them home from school. The vaccine was approved and released to the public in 1955. Janice remained a passionate advocate for vaccines through this most recent pandemic. The Bogardus family spent many years fostering many babies that were likely unwanted and had out of wedlock and so Janice’s exposure to the struggles of mothers and infants began.
Upon graduating from Bethel Park High School in 1957, she attended Shadyside Hospital Nursing Program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Through her training during the numerous rotations, Janice spent a single day at Planned Parenthood learning about sexual health and contraception, which would be a precursor to so much of what she accomplished in her career. She graduated from her nursing program in 1959. Janice met her love, Joseph Newton McCallie, while attending the nursing program and spent many a night at local dances, always making sure she paid for herself, keeping her independence. Joe was determined to woo her and finally she relented to his devotion and married him on July 1, 1959. He remained truly in love with her until his death in 2003.
A story she shared in an interview with her granddaughter, Rachael Pavilch, was that before she got married she wanted to get on birth control. When she went to a physician, at 20 years old, she was told that in order to get a contraception device, she either needed a wedding invitation to prove she was getting married or a permission slip from her parents. She was outraged but complied and brought her wedding invitation. The first oral contraception became available the year after that, and in 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow married couples the right to use birth control, and in 1972, they ruled that unmarried couples could then use birth control. These early experiences clearly made an impression on her and guided her career. Her passion for women’s reproductive rights, mothers’ rights in childbirth and a compassionate approach to infant death made her a standout among her peers. Her understanding of the need for a mother’s control over her birth, the ideal process for bonding mothers, fathers and infants, and advocating for a compassionate approach to the grief process for parents of stillborns was powerful. She was not afraid to speak her mind and care for her patients in the way they needed. She passed this headstrong determination on to her four daughters.
Jan and Joe had and are survived by four daughters, Marna Elaine McCallie-Francis, Beth Alynn Pavlich (McCallie), Gwyn-Anne Bissonette (McCallie) and Sharon Lee McCallie-Steller (Andrew Steller [the last son-in-law standing]). Jan was by no means was a picture-perfect mother, but she was at every skating competition, every track meet, every marching band performance, every play, every football game and tried to be at every birth of her grandchildren. She created numerous Halloween costumes, theater costuming, handsewed every skating outfit, every prom dress and every wedding dress. She spent time with her children swimming, playing games, camping and lots of dancing and singing to the recordings of the musicals she loved so much.
While raising her family, Jan continued to be a thought-leader in women’s reproductive care and was often at odds with the general society of the time. She taught childbirth classes, coaching not only expecting mothers but numerous fathers as they faced the new challenge of fatherhood, and tried to help them learn how to best support their wives in parenting their newborns. In her 50s, again a woman beyond societal norms, Jan returned to school at Baystate Midwifery in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1994 to become a nurse midwife because “she was sick of catching the babies that the doctors didn’t get there in time for and not being able to help mothers make their own decisions during labor and delivery.” Due to her husband Joe’s illness, Janice only practiced as a nurse midwife for a few years, finishing her career caring for countless women as a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood in Saranac Lake, and then in Plattsburgh. As a patient, you knew that Jan had your best interest at heart, she was going to teach you what you needed to know about your body and you had her full attention. It is a wonderful testament of her dedication to her career that one day at Planned Parenthood in 1959 during training led to her finishing her career there more than 50 years later.
Jan, or Ba as she is known by, is survived by her nine grandchildren: Cortland Hammond (Kayleigh Tassone, partner), Brandon Steller (Sarah MacNeil-Steller, spouse), Michael McCallie (Jessica McCallie, spouse), Sarah Pavlich (Sgt. Jessica Hawker, fiancee) , Rachael Pavlich (Joshua Vandergrift, fiancee), Morin Bissonette, Nathaniel Steller, Cobane Bissonette, and Daniel Francis; and four great grandchildren, Camden Tassone, Kairi Hammond, Andrew Joseph McCallie and Briar Hammond. As much as possible, she attended soccer games, school plays and concerts, birthday parties and ballet performances.
Those who knew her well will also know that Jan was a passionate sports fan, especially football; the New England Patriots were her team, followed closely by the Pittsburgh Steelers. If you wanted to talk to Jan on game day, you better call her before kickoff. Football was only rivaled by her passion for the Olympics; she spent countless hours watching and recording summer and winter Olympic Games.
It is with great relief that we know that Jan is no longer suffering from her health issues and that she was able to dictate the pathway of her last days. Services will be delayed and announced at a later date. The M. B. Clark, Inc., Funeral Home in Lake Placid is in charge of arrangements. Please visit www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com to share a memory, view the memorial tribute video or leave condolences. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Janice Eleanor McCallie to Planned Parenthood at the national level, with tribute letters sent to Sharon McCallie-Steller, P.O. Box 292, Pike, NH 03780.