Blum, Janet Rairigh
Janet (Jan) Blum, age 80, passed away peacefully on October 29, 2015 at her townhome on Warm Hearth Village under the loving care of Good Samaritan Hospice and Traci’s Caregivers, after a valiant struggle with pancreatic cancer, which was detected on May 20, 2015.
She was born on September 25, 1935, in Cleveland, OH, the daughter of the late Richard M. Rairigh, originally from the Pittsburg, PA, area, and Jane E. Hyde, originally from New Philadelphia, OH. Left to mourn her loss are her husband, Joe, and their five children (and spouses): Catherine, Wilkes-Barre, PA; Christine Vaughan (Paul), Bowie, MD: Joseph (Esther), Bonne Terre, MO; Robert (Ingrid), Decatur, IL and Thomas (Stephanie), Phoenix, AZ. Also surviving are 11 grandchildren, six great-grand children and her only sibling, a brother Richard A. Rairigh of Palm Harbor, FL.
Jan graduated from Andrews School for Girls (now Andrews Osborne Academy) in Willoughby, OH, in 1954 and enrolled in Iowa State College (now University) in Ames, IA, that same year. There she met her future husband, Joe, a native Iowan, while both worked in the ISC Student Union. He graduated in 1956 as an electrical engineer and, after their marriage in Harlan, Iowa, on June 16, 1956, began service in the US Air Force. Throughout Joe’s 30-year career in the AF and retirement as a colonel in 1986, and then 10 years as a Va Tech faculty member, Jan’s major emphasis was on the care and nurturing of their children. During their marriage of 59+ years, she created a loving home environment for Joe and their family in 18 different dwellings, in ten different states and in Canada. Jan still found time to volunteer with the Reach-to-Recovery Program of the American Cancer Society for over 12 years, served on several church committees and also worked in the Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry for many years. She also served as a school classroom and library aide and Sunday school teacher on several occasions and in various locations.
As Joe’s AF career progressed, including command of several large units, Jan fulfilled those
official and social commitments expected of her, but they were never her primary emphasis. Rather than bridge parties or luncheons at the Officers Club, Jan preferred hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her family while living in Colorado in the 1960s, including clambering up Pikes Peak on the 13-mile Barr Trail to the 14,115-foot summit. She began recreational running while living in Hawaii in the 1970s, including the completion of several 10K races. After moving to Blacksburg in 1982, and continuing until just a short time before her death, she ran (and later walked) the local Huckleberry Trail, the beauty and solitude of which she loved. Her logbooks show that she covered a documented total of just under 20,000 miles during her running career. Cancer robbed her of achieving her goal of logging a total distance equal to the approximate circumference of the Earth at the Equator (about 23,000 miles), but given a few more years, she would have made it. Jan considered the natural world to be ‘God’s Great Outdoor Chapel’.
But first and foremost, Jan always viewed her vocation as being simply a loving partner, devoted mother and homemaker. She was an avid reader and derived strength and devotion to her Christian principles through daily reading of her Bible and other devotional materials. She was steadfast in her faith all of her life and through her last days on Earth. Her belief was as expressed in St. Paul’s letter:
‘For we know that if the earthly house in which we dwell be destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made by human hands, eternal in the heavens.’ 2 Corinthians 5: 1.
In lieu of flowers, Joe and family respectfully request that any condolences offered be made in the form of donations in Jan’s name to Good Samaritan Hospice, 1160 Moose Drive NW, Christiansburg, VA 24073, or to the Warm Hearth Foundation (designated for the Village Center or Employee Recognition Fund), 2607 Warm Hearth Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060. Joe wishes to express his sincere appreciation for the many prayers and acts of kindness shown by neighbors and friends during Jan’s illness, and the loving and compassionate care given by the Good Samaritan Hospice nurses and the women of Traci’s Caregivers, who provided around-the-clock care during Jan’s last four days on Earth.
The family will receive friends between 6 and 8 pm on Thursday November 5, 2015 at McCoy Funeral Home, 150 Country Club Drive, Blacksburg. A funeral mass is scheduled at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1205 Old Mill Road, Blacksburg, at 1:00 pm on Friday, November 6, 2015 followed by a reception in the church hall. Following the reception, Interment of ashes in Westview Cemetery, Blacksburg, will be private.