A 23-year resident of Belvedere, Janet (Jan) Irene Andersen passed away at her home on March 18, 2020. Whether she was heli-skiing in Europe, calming her husband down as their plane landed in the midst of a Haitian military coup, or serving as a steady, compassionate mentor to her beloved nieces and nephews, Jan lived a life as colorful and dynamic as the gardens she spent a lifetime creating.
Born in Bay City, Michigan, to Arthur and Irene Wegener on September 6, 1945, Jan grew up on a dairy farm. Her interests throughout her life reflected her roots.
Jan was a master of cultivating collections of beautiful things that grew together — gardens, philanthropies, friend groups, and family. Effortlessly embodying excellence in whatever she tried, her drive and determination were matched only by her grace. Jan’s eye for beauty, togetherness, and collaboration saw her volunteer for a number of philanthropies that aimed to do everything from supporting underserved children to infusing people’s days with just a little more light and joy.
Jan’s aptitude for diplomacy shined in her first job, as she worked in the human resources department at Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan. From there, she was quickly promoted to an administrative position in San Francisco. She then accepted a position with Bechtel Corporation, where her responsibilities included overseeing the procurement aspects of constructing nuclear power facilities.
Jan’s smile was a constant, as were the many close friends in her life who enjoyed her companionship and sense of humor. But despite an extensive list of passions and accomplishments, anyone who knew Jan could see immediately that the greatest love of her life was her husband, Peter. Partners for more than 50 years, they embodied a way of life that lived up to each of their dreams in every way. They fearlessly traveled to more than 100 countries, unafraid of defying convention or “good judgment.” For anyone who was wondering — yes, they still got off that plane in Haiti, thanks almost entirely to Jan. Political upheaval, military conflict, and a truly life-threatening situation were never going to stop Peter and Jan from exploring, learning, and seeing things independently for themselves. It may not come as a surprise that Peter and Jan’s families learned of their marriage via telegram, after they eloped to Switzerland in 1971. They were married in Interlaken, between two lakes and mountains dotted with wildflowers.
Later that same year, Peter and Jan started their married life in a Nicasio home at the end of a two mile-long dirt road with no utilities. There, Jan created a beautiful garden, and the foundation for the years of wonderful memories to come.
In 1997, Peter and Jan moved to a home in Belvedere, where Jan’s eye for pattern, color, and texture transformed the surrounding space into a work of art. Jan knew the name of every flower, shrub, and tree in her hillside sanctuary. It didn’t take Jan long to use that same talent to give back to the community.
A world of homes carved into hillsides and historical lanes dating back to the time of horse-drawn carriages, Belvedere’s Italian Riviera-like beauty, shimmering water, and winding walkways had a steadfast friend in Jan. Her 16 years of service on the Belvedere Parks and Open Space Committee and subsequently, the Belvedere Planning Commission, allowed her to preserve and perfect the old-world character of the island she and Peter called home.
Jan’s work also extended beyond Belvedere’s idyllic atmosphere. She was a dedicated member of the Garden Conservancy, and an active supporter of the Marin Art and Garden Center. She headed the Belvedere Community Foundation’s grant committee, volunteered for the Marin Designer Showcase, worked with the Youth in Arts program, and received the Belvedere Community Spotlight Award for her efforts. Jan selflessly dedicated herself to bringing beauty into the lives of everyone she met.
Perhaps Jan’s final chapter of life provides one of the clearest images of her unwavering positivity. In battling a disease that steals health, she never let it steal her happiness. After receiving a diagnosis that brain cancer would take her life within six months, Jan spent the next four and a half years gardening, traveling around the world, and spending time with her family and friends. Wherever limitations seemed to lie, Jan looked past them with determination and a smile.
Jan is survived by her husband, Peter, sister Darlene (Ronald) Pugsley, nieces Michelle (Nathan) Kendall and Lynn Pugsley, and grandnephew and grandniece Nicholas and Abigail Kendall. She is predeceased by her beloved parents Arthur and Irene Wegener, and her father and mother-in-law, Peter Sr. and Irmgard Andersen. Her family would like to express a special thank you to Thelma from Marin Home Care, whose dedication to Jan has made her a member of the family. They would also like to thank Hospice by the Bay, Kaiser Permanente and UCSF Medical Center for all of their support.