Harry G. Janis, of Williamsburg, died peacefully at home on July 29, 2017, surrounded by family. He was born in Chicago on Jan. 20, 1923 and grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, with his parents, David and Rosa Janis, and his younger brother, Allen.
He graduated from Oak Park High School at the top of his class and then attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. There he met the love of his life and his wife of over 72 years, June E. (Schainis) Janis.
Harry enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force after his freshman year, with service in Guam.
He returned to complete his college degree and then worked in finance in Chicago and Traverse City.
After spending summers in a log cabin on Round Lake (now Lake Skegemog) for nine years, the family moved to Williamsburg in 1966. Harry helped design their house on Skegemog Point, built overlooking Elk Lake.
Harry had a lifelong love of sailing, getting his first sailboat as a boy summering in Pine Lake, Wisconsin. In 1968 he and June started a small sailboat marina, the Sail Shop, in Kewadin. In 1973 they took a boat from Elk Rapids to Florida via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, Lake Champlain and the Inter-Coastal Waterway. For the next five years they lived on their sailboat, Maharaja, nine months a year, spending most of their time in the Abacos and the Florida Keys. They later cruised in Georgian Bay and the North Channel for many years.
In the mid-1970s Harry and June started an effort that led to the creation of the Skegemog Lake Wildlife Area, preserving over 3,000 acres of land on the south end of Skegemog and along the mouth of Torch River. For their efforts they were awarded the 1993 national Chevron Conservation Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the conservation of natural resources, and were further recognized by the naming of Janis Creek and Janis Point. Harry was a founding director of the Grass River Natural Area. He also loved bird watching, keeping his life list up to date and photography.
Harry was a kind soul who loved his wife, his family and the outdoors. Those who knew him can easily picture him at the helm of a sailboat. He'd have a contented, calm smile on his face, whether skippering a Sunfish or a 37-foot ketch and whether he was alone or with family. Always looking for comfortable places to sit, we can also see him in a hammock, swing or lounge chair looking out to sunsets over Elk Lake. He lived a wonderful life, and we will miss him deeply.
He is survived by his wife, June; his brother, Allen Janis, of Monroeville, Pennsylvania; his three sons and daughters-in-law, Mark and Janet Janis, of West Hartford, Connecticutt, Jim and Hillary Janis, of Columbia, Maryland, and Rus Janis and Connie Snow, of Brattleboro, Vermont; seven grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.
We are grateful for the wonderful care given to Harry by the staff of the Highlander and of Hospice of Michigan.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (for the Lake Skegemog Wildlife Area), 3860 N. Long Lake Road, Suite D, Traverse City, MI 49684 or www.gtrlc.org.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home of Traverse City.
Published on August 6, 2017