Obituary of Janice Katherine Lathrop
Jan Lathrop, a former third grade teacher at Notre Dame School in Chico, died October 1st at Windchime Assisted Living, following a stroke. She was 88.
Born on January 27, 1935, Jan was the oldest of the four daughters of Woodrow and Ila Newhart. The sisters were each just a year apart in age and quite a sight in their matching Easter dresses handmade by their mom. They were raised in a house next door to their grandparents, Roy and Clara Lucas, in the middle of a Chico almond orchard on Sacramento Street. Life was not always easy, but Jan was a great big sister who took care of her siblings. Their summers were spent running barefoot through the orchards, making their own fun, playing dress up, and walking to One Mile for a refreshing swim on hot Chico days. Late night talks in their shared attic bedroom helped to forge their life-long bonds.
Jan attended Citrus Avenue School, Central Middle School, and Chico High School. She then enrolled at Chico State where she was selected as the Sigma Kappa Sorority’s Little Nell candidate, part of the university’s Pioneer Days celebration. She often recalled the day she spotted Bill Lathrop across the quad, looking handsome in his Levi’s, white T-shirt, and brown and white saddle oxfords. After their first date spent duck hunting (his choice), she knew he was the man for her. She married Bill on April 10, 1955, at St. John’s Catholic Church and had an exemplary and loving marriage for 65 years.
After their youngest was born in 1967, Jan returned to finish her degree at Chico State and earn her teaching credential. She taught 5th and 3rd grades at Notre Dame School for twenty years. She had many close teaching colleagues and cherished families who brought their children to learn from her. Jan's classroom was a place of joyful learning and creatively decorated with bright colors and eye-catching bulletin boards. Over the years, she demonstrated her leadership skills by mentoring several student teachers who went on to have careers in education. She modeled, through her own behavior, the compassionate concern for everyone that she expected of her students. Jan was a favorite teacher for many Notre Dame alumni.
As educators, Jan and Bill spent their summers off with family and friends relaxing, waterskiing, sunbathing, reading, crafting, barbecuing, and playing cards at the family cabin at Buck’s Lake and later at Big Lagoon in Humboldt County. While Jan and her girlfriends or sisters talked non-stop and managed their flocks of children playing in the sand and mud, the husbands worked hard at catching fish. Every Bucks Lake evening was capped off with a barbecue on the deck and singing and s’mores around the campfire.
The family was never wealthy, but their home was filled with love and laughter and they were rich in all the ways that matter. Jan’s children always knew that if they needed help, a listening ear, or a hug, they could count on their mom for wisdom and acceptance. Her love enriched the lives of her entire family, who benefited from her kindness.
Despite the demands of day-to-day life raising four kids and balancing a career, Jan truly cherished the moments of her life. Whether she was spending a weekend in San Francisco, winning a $1,250 jackpot in Vegas, or simply relaxing at their family home at 5 Thomas Lane, she treasured the memories. Jan and Bill lived happily on the same quiet cul-de-sac for 63 years before moving to assisted living in 2019.
Jan’s husband Bill, parents Woodrow and Ila Newhart, stepfather Pete Petersen, and sister Gloria died previously. A 4-year-old son, Michael, and a daughter-in-law, Heike, also predeceased her. She is survived by her sisters Nancy (Dino) Lago of Forest Ranch and Carollyn Chapman of Redding; two sons, Mark Lathrop of Red Bluff and Matt (Zenita) Lathrop of Florence, Montana; and two daughters, Mindy (Chip) Raffi of Sandown, New Hampshire, and Mia (Scott) Winter of Chico.
Jan had ten grandchildren: Erika (Fred) Montgomery, Lauren (Ryan) Lathrop and Lucas (Shanta) Lathrop; Michael and Kylie Raffi; Nolan (Emi) Lathrop, Olivia Lathrop and Megan (Jed) Montagner; and Sterling and Sophia Winter. She also had thirteen great-grandchildren: Kira and Marcus Montgomery; Audrey Vu and Layne Swett; Madelyn, Kate and Ella Lathrop; Levi, Griffin, Pepper, Raylan and Ruby Lathrop; and James Montagner.
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A Mass will be said in Jan’s honor on Saturday, November 4 at 5:00 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church located at 435 Chestnut Street in Chico. A celebration of the lives of both Jan and Bill Lathrop will be held in the spring.