Janie Peters, lovingly known also as Nana, Mawmaw, Ms. Moo and other special nicknames, touched the lives of countless students and people throughout Craig County schools and the community. Her job at CCPS involved more than just dishing out food, she dished out love and hugs to everyone too.
Pam Dudding Contributing writer
At the February School Board Meeting, Superintendent Jeanette Warwick began things with a moment of silence in memory of Janie Peters, later asking everyone to “keep the CCPS family in their thoughts and prayers as this is definitely a void in our cafeteria.”
She went on to read a thank-you note from the family that said, “CCPS family, our family cannot thank you enough for all the kindness you shown our family during this difficult time. Your thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity during this difficult time meant so much to all of us. You were our mother’s family as much as we are, and we love you for that. Love the Peters family.”
Peters started her career as a cafeteria worker full-time in the 1983-84 academic year, but was a substitute before that in the old New Castle High School and McCleary Elementary.
To keep her memory alive, the family established a Janie Peters Memorial Fund at Carter Bank and Trust in New Castle for people to make donations.
“We would like to keep feeding the kids at CCPS in our mom’s memory,” daughter Rebecca Peters Crawford shared on Facebook. “She would never let a kid go hungry or without ice cream on their ice cream day. We would like to thank everyone in advance for helping us to make this a success to keep our mom’s memory alive doing what she did for over 38 years.”
Within a few short days, almost 200 people on Facebook responded to the post. Some heartfelt responses that stood out were:
- ”What a very compassionate thing to do! Your mom would have given anyone the shirt off her back. So loving and caring to so many young and old!! Her shoes will be hard to fill!!! Love this and so would she”
- ”It is such a great testimony to your mom and the love she had for the kids of this community”
- ”Your mom was an angel to so many! The least we can do is keep that alive”
- ”She’s smiling down on all of you for this”
- ”Your mom was such an amazing woman, and this is such a wonderful way to honor her memory and continue what she always did for the kids of Craig County”
- ”Craig County lost one in a million! She has left such a legacy for all who were privileged to know her. If we all had a heart like your mom’s, what a beautiful world this would be”
- ”I loved Miss Janie! I was forever either forgetting my lunch money or giving it away the summer of sixth grade. I didn’t want my parents to know I had given my coins away so my friend and I would borrow back and forth from one another. Miss Janie never let any of us go without lunch or ice cream for any reason. She gave out so many of her own dimes for us kids. Love her always”
When Peters started working at the school, her children, Kristopher, Zachary and Rebekah were in the third, second and kindergarten grade levels, respectively.
“She would always make us ride the bus to school when we were younger, because we would make her late to work,” Rebekah said. “As we got older, she started letting us go with her and we would have to sit in the cafeteria until it was time to go to class.”
They joked later in life, as they said that once they entered high school and were driving themselves, she somehow always knew when they were late, skipped or decided to leave early.
“She always knew what we did sometimes before we even knew we were in trouble,” they all laughed.
Musician and CCPS graduate Joe Francisco was also a friend to Peter. He recorded a song and posted it on Facebook in her honor. “I’m dedicating it this evening to her family. May it bring them a little peace in this hard time! We love you, Janie,” he said before playing the beloved song, “Amazing Grace – My Chains are Gone.”
“Every kid loved her,” Rebekah noted before adding, “They knew she would help them in any way she could rather it be just keeping them out of trouble, helping with school work, buying them what they needed for sports, and of course making sure that everyone got breakfast and lunch along with extras and snacks if they wanted. She always paid for anything that she gave to a child at that school.”
Shared CCPS School Nutrition Supervisor Sherry Crowder, “Janie was a loving lunch lady that always looked out for her kids and of course that was any student that passed through the cafeteria for the past 30 plus years. She always had a ‘Good Morning’, a hug for someone that was not having a good day or just willing to listen to their problems. Janie was a selfless person and always thinking of herself last. She was kind, sweet and had a way of making you smile even if you were having the worst of days.”
Not just Janie, she was also known as Mrs. Janie, Mom, Momma, Momma Janie, Mammaw, Grandma, Grandma Janie and Nana by so many.
“She also had fun and personal nicknames with some kids such as her lil’ moo that called her Ms. Moo. Then there is Sweet Lips and BO time and plenty more nicknames that have inside jokes with individual students and staff at CCPS,” Rebekah added.
Fellow cafeteria employee Nancy Fisher said the following, “I can’t say enough good things about Janie. We’ve been friends for 40 years and worked together for over 30. She would always look out for the kids whether it was a smile, a hug or a child who wanted a snack or extra food, but they didn’t have money for, she would use her own. She has always been a giving person and never expected anything in return. She will be missed by so many.”
For this kind of love, the family chose to set up a fund in Janie’s memory at Carter Bank.
“The fund is more than just ice cream,” the family shared. “The fund is for breakfast, lunch, snacks, ice cream or whatever may be needed.”
The family added that it may help pay for some child’s outstanding lunch charges for those in need (if funds are available and it is approved by the family), or sports startup as an occasional meal or donation may be made to help feed the players before the game.
“She spent most Friday evenings after work preparing the meals for the football team,” the Peter’s recalled. “You could find her there on Friday afternoon still helping Sherry get stuff prepared before the games. She helped get that started way back when.”
It has been repeated by many that she loved everyone, not just the kids and she would freely give lots of hugs in a day’s time.
“For some kids, she knew it would be the only hug they would get for the day,” Rebekah said. “It didn’t matter who you were or who your parents, grandparents or any other family members were. It didn’t matter rather they were rich, poor, clean, dirty, special needs or anything in between, she would love you just as you were.”
They added, “She would also make sure the staff was taken care of if needed. If you forgot your wallet that day, it was ok because she would pay and let you give it back when you had it. If she knew you liked something and it was for breakfast or lunch that day, she would set it aside for you if she knew you couldn’t make it before everything would be cleaned up. She also made sure no one was hungry.”
Janie’s kids shared that she loved to support the kids in and out of school and when her own kids were in school, they said she was at every practice.
“She was also at every game. If she wasn’t there it was because she couldn’t be at two games at the same time. She would travel no matter where the game was played or if you had a school play, graduation or activities not school-related,” they said. “If you asked her to come, she would try to be there.”
Peter’s family remembered that she also spent many nights sitting in the emergency room with kids other than her own, and, “if a child needed a ride, a place to stay, babysitter or just a listening ear, she was always willing to be that person.”
Rebekah fondly added, “Parents have even been known to come visit their kids at her house because kids would come stay days, weeks or even months at a time if they needed a place to stay. It didn’t matter the reason; you were always welcome.”
Peters would also always “cook dinner for a small army” because they never knew who was going to show up for a meal.
“Our dad was a truck driver and would come home usually on Friday nights and he always laughed and said he never knew who he would have to step over to get in the house because there would be kids sleeping everywhere on the floor, couches, recliners or beds,” Rebekah said. “She loved her family very much, all of them the ones near and far. Even if she didn’t get to see you often, I guarantee you she loved you with all her heart.”
Crowder added, “Janie was a precious friend and co-worker that I loved very much. She will be missed greatly but will live in my heart forever.”
Noting in honor of Janie from an unknown author, “When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure.”