Mat-Su College professor Jan Vandever passes away; memorial service Oct. 17, 2014

by Michelle Saport  |   

Jan J. Vandever (Oct. 28, 1944-Oct. 1, 2014) died while in hospice care at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, after a long battle with cancer. Jan is survived by her sister Nancy Rogers from Manchester, N.J., her nephew James Dean from Newtown, Pa., and her niece Donna Holt from Hollsville, Texas.

Jan was born Newark, N.J., and raised in Jackson, N.J. She attended Lakewood High School in Lakewood, N.J. She went on to graduate in 1967 with a B.S. in elementary education from Monmouth College (now Monmouth University) in West Long Branch, N.J.

While still attending Monmouth College, Jan began teaching mathematics at St. Mary's School in Middletown, N.J., which would be her first teaching job in a teaching career that spans just less than 50 years. After graduating from Monmouth College, Jan taught mathematics in grades 9-12 and served as the mathematics coordinator/supervisor for Burlington, N.J. Township Schools until 1974.

The remainder of Jan's career was spent in higher education. She earned a M.Ed. in mathematics education from Rutgers University in 1971, a M.A.T. in mathematics from Colorado State University in 1973 and a Ph.D. in measurement and statistics from the University of North Dakota in 1976.

After brief stints as an assistant professor of mathematics at Moorhead State University and Concordia College, both in Minnesota, Jan then taught from 1981-2003 for South Dakota State University. Upon her retirement from for South Dakota State University, Jan was given Professor Emeritus of Mathematics status.

After Jan retired from South Dakota State University in 2003, she move to Alaska and taught for ten years at Matanuska-Susitna College in Palmer. During the ten years Jan taught for Mat-Su College, there was always a core group of students who would do their homework in a classroom near Jan's office so that they could ask for her patient help and guidance.

Jan was active in several national mathematics associations, including the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Mathematics Association of America and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (Life Member).

Jan was the recipient of many awards for teaching, including Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at South Dakota State University, the Larson Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, the F. O. Butler Award for Outstanding Service to Students, and the Cushman-Breitwieser Award for Outstanding Research, Teaching and Service. Most recently, Jan was inducted into the Lakewood High School Hall of Fame for her achievements and dedication to teaching mathematics.

Jan enjoyed hunting and fishing while living in South Dakota, and while growing up she often bow hunted with her father. So it is no surprise that after a trip to Alaska, she decided she wanted to live there. As soon as she returned home to South Dakota, she worked toward moving to Alaska, and in Alaska she lived in a log cabin that she had built in the woods outside of Palmer. She enjoyed Alaska, made many friends and traveled to several remote locations.

Finally, Jan was a big fan of baseball. She held season tickets to the Mat-Su Miners, and she threw out the first pitch for the team's 2013 season. Jan was well qualified to throw out that first pitch-she played softball (as pitcher) while living and teaching in South Dakota.

Jan attended St. Michaels Catholic Church in Palmer. A funeral mass for Jan Vandever will be held at St. Michaels on Friday, Oct. 17, at 12:10 p.m. A reception will follow.

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