Janet C. Small transitioned to meet her Lord and Savior at the age of 81 on the morning of September 11, 2021. Janet was born on February 17, 1940, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York, where she lived throughout her entire life. Janet was the fourth child of six to Mary Lou Walker and Robert James Walker, of Warrenton, Georgia, and Lancaster County, Virginia, respectively. She is predeceased by her parents, siblings Sylvia (Dibby) Walker and Robert J. Walker, Jr., and husband, Morton C. Small.
Janet was extremely popular in the communities she lived and visited. But just who was she? She was daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, work colleague, spiritual partner, and missionary. Specifically, she was simply “Janet”, never much caring for her middle name, hence the commonly seen “Janet C.” If you knew her from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the 1940s and 1950s, she may playfully have been referred to as “Jake”. To others over the years, she was also “Jan” or “Janis”, the latter an inadvertent mispronunciation that she seemingly didn’t care to correct. Later in life, she became “Mom” (or “Ma”), “Nana”, “Aunt Janet” (even to the unrelated), “Sister Janet”, “Sister Small”, “Miss Janet”, “Mother Janet” or “Mother Small”. There may be other variations, but you get the point. She was someone special to everyone she encountered.
Janet attended Brooklyn public schools and some community college before deciding to enter the workforce full-time. Her high school yearbook described her as having “A sunny disposition, Plus lots of ambition.” That is an accurate statement …a little more on that later.
In her mid-20s, Janet met “Mort”, an electronics technician, who had come from Panama to the United States, gaining citizenship, in the early 1960s. Janet and “Mort” were married on December 11, 1965, having one son, Anthony. Mort went to be with his Lord and Savior on June 26, 2010.
While raising Anthony, Janet also worked various office jobs, and, at times, helped Mort in his electronics and television repair business. But she wanted more. While in her early 40s, Janet retransformed herself, enrolling in courses which led to a Certificate of Proficiency in Electrocardiography. With that Certificate in hand, and continuing education at Manhattan Community College, Janet embarked upon a wonderful twenty-year career at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn until 2004. At her retirement party, attended by scores, Janet was described as “a Christian Woman who lived her faith by example”, “took care of business, “ and “kept us laughing”.
As she entered her 60’s Janet was blessed with grandchildren and cherished her role as “Nana”, often visiting the two girls and her son and daughter-in-law in Connecticut on holidays and as a break from the city. For a period of time, when the girls were pre-school age, Janet traveled there each week to babysit a few days and held “school” in the family room.
Just as important to Janet as her commitment to family, was her unrelenting faith and relationship with God and her church. Deeply spiritual, Janet believed in the power of prayer and scripture. Her favorite bible is weathered from years of daily use and is affixed with sticky notes of her favorite passages and lesson notes.
Janet attended Bethany Baptist Church most of her life, where she was widely known for her dedication to the teachings as well as her colorful personality and attire. At Bethany, Janet participated in the Missionary Ministry, the C.A.R.E. Ministry, church Sunday School and mid-week bible and prayer groups, and also served on many Church and Pastoral Anniversary and Women’s Day committees.
Janet also attended the Bedford Zion Nazarene Church for a time during the 1970s before returning to Bethany. In recent years, Janet was also a well-known and active participant in Salem Missionary Baptist Church weekly noon-day prayer meetings, and in a morning telephone prayer ministry at Grace Baptist Church in Waterbury, Connecticut. Janet also volunteered at the homeless shelter feeding program conducted by Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church and frequently visited the sick and shut-in.
Janet made new friends everywhere - in her building, while in a park, shopping, or on the train – some of those relationships spanning decades. Later in Janet’s life, if you were a younger man or woman, with time, you may have become, respectively, her “son”, or “baby girl”. If you were a contemporary or older, she might have other nicknames for you. Janet was also known for her signature catch phrases such as “Where you at?” and “You’ve got to be kidding!” More than any other, she said and lived by the well-known phrase "where there's a will, there's a way."
Janet is survived by her son Anthony, and daughter-in-law Keina; two grand-daughters, Jaeda-Maya and Naima; siblings Beatrice Brown, Joyce Spencer and Dr. John A. Walker; numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives; her Bethany Baptist and other Church families; and numerous “sons”, “baby girls” and other dear friends, some of which are relationships that span a lifetime.
Janet touched many and while her spirit will stay with us, she will be missed.
Please use the link below to see Janet C. Small's Celebration of Life Service on September 27th @ 10am:
To send flowers to Janet's family, please visit our floral store.