Janet Nielsen Gratz, 71, passed on to the next place on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, at Mountain View Care Center in Tucson, Arizona. She was born July 13, 1945, in Coffeyville, Kansas, to Howard “Hod” Nielsen and Anita O’Rielly Nielsen.
Ms. Gratz grew up in Rapid City and Yankton, South Dakota. She graduated from Yankton High School in Yankton, South Dakota, in 1963, where she was the class valedictorian. After high school, she attended Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1966, completing her degree in just three years. In 1973, Ms. Gratz received her Master of Science degree from Minnesota State University at Mankato.
Ms. Gratz taught English and mathematics in Fairmont, Minnesota, Kodiak, Alaska, and Hastings, Minnesota. For twenty years, she was the executive director of Hastings Family Service, a private, non-profit community services agency in Hastings, Minnesota. She retired from Hastings Family Service in 2004, and moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 2005.
Janet married Loren Gratz in 1970, in Yankton, South Dakota. They were happily married for 46 years. Janet was a member of the AAUW, the Twin Cities Diabetes Association and the Marana Book Club, as well as churches in Hastings, Minnesota, and Marana, Arizona. She enjoyed baking, quilting, gardening, books, dogs, word puzzles, and travel. She also received several awards, including Businesswoman of the Year in Hastings, Minnesota, and the Helen Keller Sight Award from the Hastings Lions Club.
Janet is survived by her spouse, Loren, of Marana, Arizona; her sons, Nathan Gratz of Tucson, Arizona, Evan (JoHanna) Gratz of Marana, Arizona; her sister, Karen (Wes) Wingett, of Norfolk, Nebraska, and her brother, Richard Nielsen of Lincoln, Nebraska, along with many other relatives and friends.
Janet was preceded in death by her parents, Howard “Hod” and Anita Nielsen of Yankton, South Dakota.
A Celebration of Life gathering will be held at a later date. Burial will be at the Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Marana, Arizona.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to Hastings Family Service, 301 E. 2nd Street, Hastings, MN 55033 or to Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N Del Norte Paseo, Tucson, AZ 85704. Condolences may be left on the Marana Mortuary and Cemetery’s online guest book at www.MaranaMortuaryCemetery.com.
The family’s address in Arizona is: 8853 N Misty Brook Drive, Tucson, AZ 85743.