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posted: 8/11/2012 7:59 AM

Janet Safanda loved history, politics, arts

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  • Janet Wright Safanda

    Janet Wright Safanda


Janet Wright Safanda was a Southerner by birth, but a Genevan by heart.

During the 43 years she lived here, Safanda pursued passions such as informing potential voters, saving local history and enjoying music and dance.

Safanda, 72, died Aug. 4.

"She became one of the assets" of the Tri-Cities area she so loved, said her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Safanda, of Geneva.

Janet Safanda trained as a history teacher at the University of Kansas, then obtained a master's degree in teaching from Harvard University. She taught at Oak Park-River Forest High School and Elgin Academy.

Then she became a management development consultant for firms such as Andersen Consulting, Accenture, McDonald's Corp. and Time-Warner Cable.

She served as a docent at the Durant House Museum in St. Charles, which is run by the Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley.

Soon Elizabeth Safanda joined her; eventually, the two became PPFV's first paid employees, as co-executive directors.

But Janet Safanda's bigger passion may have been her work with the League of Women Voters, Elizabeth Safanda said.

She volunteered with the League's Geneva-St. Charles chapter, and helped shepherd a recent merger with the Batavia chapter.

Janet Safanda was asked time and again to moderate the candidate forums the League conducts before elections.

"People always called on her first to moderate; she was fair, and remained calm," even when faced with unruly supporters of candidates. Janet Safanda faced "major challenges. They weren't just docile citizens," Elizabeth Safanda said.

She worked on the chapter's voter services, membership, environmental and education funding committees, using her management development skills.

Safanda loved music and dance. She was chairman of the board of the Chicago-based Orion Ensemble, which performs annually in the Tri-Cities, and the St. Charles Singers.

She was a fan of the Joffrey Ballet, but would point out that people didn't have to go to downtown Chicago to enjoy the arts.

"Oh my gosh, we've got first-rate artistic opportunities right here in the Tri-Cities," Janet Safanda would say, according to her sister-in-law.

And she threw wonderful Halloween parties, Elizabeth Safanda said, including ones where guests were to come dressed as their dream or least-favorite political figure.

Janet Safanda is survived by her husband, Roy; sons John and David; four grandchildren; a brother; and a niece.

A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. today at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Drive, Geneva. It will include a short concert by the Orion Ensemble.

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