Janie Jo (White) Petaja 1-15-22
January 26, 2022
Janie Jo (White) Petaja, age 74, was taken from us far too soon on Saturday, January 15 as a result of lung damage caused by COVID. Janie was born in Missoula to Gordon and Jean (Hurly) White but grew up in Glasgow.
She attended college at the University of Montana in Missoula where she met her husband Rich (then going by his childhood nickname Dick) on a blind date set up by a fellow Delta Gamma sorority sister.
Daddy was sent off to Vietnam for the first part of their marriage, and then after moving around a bit with the army they were stationed in Vicenza, Italy, where their first child David was born. After leaving the army the family moved to Missoula for a few years before settling permanently in Helena.
Janie was a very funny, quick-witted lady who loved a good pun and who loved people in an unshakeable way that is a surprise in this world. She never gave up on the people she loved, even when some of us sorely deserved it, and continued to support and encourage her family in success or failure. She was the constant, trustworthy rock of our family and I don't know what
we'll do without her to call for her wisdom, humor and support.
Janie worked in offices all over Helena over the years, including God's Love Shelter, Blue Cross, and US West. She retired to care full time for her husband Rich upon his suffering a stroke about 9 years ago, and spent the next years caring for him faithfully through his slow decline. We lost Rich 3 years ago next month.
Then 2020 happened, and since then she's been mostly enjoying her home, videos of people mowing lawns, lap cats Clementine, Susanna, and Jade, and her local and visiting children and grandchildren. She was delighted to attend the wedding of her oldest son David just last October and it was lovely to have the whole familytogether with her in what we would never have believed would be the last time.
Janie is preceded in death by her parents Jean and Gordon and her husband Rich, and is survived by her son David Petaja and wife Kathryn, daughter Susan Petaja Velasquez and husband Adam of Helena, son John Petaja and wife Elissa Sussman of Studio City, CA and daughter Amy Petaja Tscharner and husband Charlie of Modesto, CA. Also surviving are siblings and spouses Susan (White) and Otto Thomas, Mary (White) Scott, Gordo and Carolyn White of Hamilton, and Kurt and Cindy White of Helena, and many dearly loved grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A memorial will take place in Helena this spring.