Janet Camilla Tillotson Obituary: (1928-2019)
Janet Camilla Tillotson passed away comfortably on Nov. 26th, 2019, in the care of Hospice of the Valley, with her children at her side. Janet was born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1928. She was raised in Des Moines, Iowa. She was a tennis champion, a schoolteacher, an impressionistic painter, a fly-fisher woman, an avid gardener, and a political activist. She loved to spend time with her family at their cabin outside of Cable, Wisconsin and with her two grandkids.
As Janet Holmes, she was a graduate of the State University of Iowa, 1950, and received formal art training at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. As a young woman Janet worked hard to become a tennis champion. She won multiple tennis titles in the mid-west, and was a nationally ranked tennis player until well into her 60’s. She was a teaching tennis pro much of her life, and organized youth tennis programs, and gave tennis lessons to all ages.
Her life took a turn in 1965 as she moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Rochester, Minnesota with her children, Randall, Rodger, and Ellen Holmes when she became the head pro at the Rochester Tennis Club. She also became a director of a Minnesota Title 1 reading program for 32 schools, specializing in reading disorders like dyslexia. In 1966, she married Dr. Clark Millikan, Chairman of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. They traveled together all over the world, enjoyed gourmet cooking, the finest wine and hosting dinner parties. As volunteers they did extensive coaching of promising junior tennis players, and developed many sectional champions; including, two No. 1 National Junior Champions. Together, they became avid fly-fisher-folk, and fished with her dear friends, sportsman and sportswriter, Joe Brooks and his photographer wife, Mary.
In 1974 Janet became a professional fine artist. Primarily an impressionistic painter, she painted landscapes, sports action and still life paintings. She exhibited her paintings at numerous galleries. In 1975, “The Year of the Woman,” along with various other woman-artists, Janet was selected to exhibit at the World Trade Center in New York City. This exhibit traveled to major art museums in the U.S.A. In 1976 Janet moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where she continued painting and then helped to organize “art and artists” to campaign for preservation of the wilderness of southern Utah, and the Canyonlands of the southwest desert.
In the early 1990’s Janet’s life took yet another turn and she moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to be near her brother, Drew. In Scottsdale, she raised plants and pets, and became more politically active. One of her greatest joys in life was attending political meetings and events. Her bright shining spirit illuminated every place she went. Janet learned to make unique political buttons designed by her artist friend, Carl Muecke. Janet became something of a celebrity known as “The Button Lady,” making, and giving away thousands of buttons to progressive candidates and causes all over America. Her indomitable spirit will be greatly missed.
Janet is survived by son, Randall Holmes, and daughter, Ellen Holmes Lafans, son-in-law Dr. Richard Lafans, and grandchildren Dr. Kathryn Lafans and William Lafans. She is survived by her cherished sister-in-law, Karla Tillotson, nieces Laura and Carole, and nephew Curt Tillotson, cousin Beverly Lords, and her children, Jennifer and Courtney, as well as many great nieces and nephews. Janet was preceded in death by son Rodger Holmes, and brother Drew Tillotson. Her family would like to acknowledge her long time companion, Joseph Moncayo.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Messinger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary, 8555 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd, Scottsdale, AZ, on Saturday, January 11th, 2020, 1-3 pm. Any donations should be given to Hospice of the Valley, Phoenix, or any Humane Society of your choice.
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