Janet Louise Orth, 88 of Indianapolis, Indiana entered eternal life and joined her loving husband Donald on June 11th, 2023 on their wedding anniversary. The value of her marriage became apparent in the struggles that she has faced since living without her beloved husband Donald since he preceded her in death in August of 2015.
She was born in Cleveland, OH on April 23, 1935, to James and Alice Seids. She had an older sister, Mary Alice. Her early life was marked by the tragic death of her father when she was 6 years old. Her father was a successful surgeon and had made some provisions for the family, but it did not cover all the expenses. Her mother never remarried and worked to support the family. The family made several moves and ended up in Indianapolis in 1945-6.
Janet was baptized at the Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis when she was 10 years old. She attended what was then Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and was involved in after school service clubs. Her sister Mary Alice began dating a young man Thomas McNulty and became attracted to the Catholic faith. Mary Alice and Tom were married shortly after their graduation from high school. Their son, James McNulty was born on October 4th, 1950. Another tragic death affected the family when Tom was killed in a construction accident when James was 6 weeks old. The family was very impressed by the help and support they received from Tom’s family and his Catholic community.
Mary Alice and Jimmie lived with Janet and her mother until she (Mary Alice) was married to William Marks at St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis in 1955. During Janet’s first year of college her mother Alice began taking instruction and entered the Catholic Church. Alice became a devout Catholic: attending weekday masses and praying the Rosary daily. Janet was greatly impressed by her sister’s and her mother’s growing faith. Janet had some difficulties finding the right course of study in college and stopped to work for periods of time. At this time she was searching for a deeper connection with the Lord and began taking instruction at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Indianapolis and entered the Church at age 21.
Janet returned to college and met Donald Eugene Orth whom she married on June 11th, 1960 at St. Andrew’s Church in Indianapolis. Donald got a job with the Boy Scouts of America that led to a move to Joliet, Illinois in 1962. Janet found a job as a teacher. They became active in their parish, being trained as catechists, and teaching religious education. Janet also went back to Indiana University to work on a Master’s degree in education and found out she was pregnant. Their first child David was born in 1965. After another move with the Boy Scouts they settled in Delphi, Indiana. She and Don worked on teams set up in response to a conference set up by their bishop related to the teachings of Vatican II. Janet started volunteering with an interfaith ministry working to improve conditions for migrant workers at camps in the area. She completed her degree in 1967 and had a second child, Paul, three weeks after graduation.
In the subsequent years, family responsibilities increased with the addition of three more children: Mary in 1970, and twins Carol and Julie in 1972. Financial pressure also increased as Don went through several jobs and tried to take over a dry-cleaning business that failed in a year taking most of their savings with it. The family had come back to Indianapolis and rented a home in the neighborhood of St. Joan of Arc Church. They eventually purchased a home close by. They still tried to do what they could with the Church participating in Bible studies and, for a time, moving the family to a communal living arrangement called the Ecumenical Institute whose goal was to revitalize relationships between neighborhood groups and churches. When Don got a stable job as a salesman at a department store the family moved back to their home.
In 1975, Janet experienced a very difficult pregnancy which at times seemed life threatening due to excessive blood loss. This ultimately resulted in the tragic loss of the baby boy whom they named John Peter. Her mother’s heart was tremendously tested during this time, because she feared leaving her children without a mother.
Somehow on a lean budget with both of them working and relying on God’s provision, they managed to raise their children and model lives poured out for their family. Their children’s trials became their own at times, but the children all turned out well. Jan and Don received a lot of encouragement and spiritual growth through participating in programs such as Christ Renews His Parish, Marriage Encounter, and through serving those in need that they met along the way. Service to people both inside and outside the Church was very important to them. They were involved in St. Vincent de Paul, the “Church Mouse” thrift store that was run out of Saint Joan of Arc, and a long-standing booth serving ratatouille at the French Market fund raiser for St. Joan of Arc, just to name a few. They were also Benedictine Oblates.
Jan and Don continued to work and serve their community well past the time when most people stop. Don was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and gradually declined resulting in their moving into assisted living. Don died in 2015 from complications due to the disease. Jan had a very difficult time with Don’s decline and her inability to prevent it. Jan developed memory problems that gradually worsened until she was no longer able to communicate. She passed peacefully, having been in the presence of all of her children, on June 11th which was the Feast of Corpus Christi and her 63rd Wedding Anniversary. Perhaps that was God’s way of saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Janet is survived by her grateful children David (Beth) Orth, Paul (Alice Anne) Orth, Mary (Ken) Strohm, Carol (Craig) Walters, and Julie (Ray) Price. She was also blessed with 8 grandchildren, Daniel, Marianna, and Cecilia Orth, Joshua, Abigail, and Rebekah Strohm, Tristan Kozak, and Tyler Price.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 am at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 4217 N. Central Ave in Indianapolis on Friday, June 16th. There will also be a visitation on Thursday, June 15th from 6 pm to 8:30 pm (Rosary at 8:00 pm) at Indiana Funeral Care and Crematory, Harry W. Moore Chapel, 8151 Allisonville Rd., Indianapolis IN. 46250.
Flowers may be sent to Indiana Funeral Care as the address listed above. Memorial donations can be made to St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church at https://sjoa.org/giving. Contributions can also be given to the ALS Association which helps support people dealing with ALS and research to find a cure. ALS was the disease that cut short Janet’s father’s life. Donations can be made at: https://donate.als.org/give/287064/#!/donation/checkout?c_src=jumppage