Janet Ann Zell
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Janet Ann Zell
  • March 26, 1935 - July 20, 2017
  • Saint Louis, Missouri

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Janet Ann Zell (née Gerken) at age 82, passed away on Thursday July 20th at Mercy Hospital after months of declining health. She was surrounded by all her family, closest friends and relatives in her final hours and died peacefully. Janet was born March 26, 1935 in St. Louis to Josephine and Fredrick Gerken. She was the oldest of three siblings and was preceded in death by her sister Marilyn and brother Rick.

Janet was a fun, loving and adventurous woman who lived a very full life and brought great joy to many people around her. She grew up as an army brat, attending five high-schools before graduating while in Germany with her family. In the first semester of her junior year, while attending Southwest High school in St. Louis, she met George (Ron) Zell, who she would later capture for life. The second semester of her junior year she attended St Marks in St. Louis, where she would make her lifelong friends that she rejoined at Fontbonne in college. After graduation from high school in Germany, she returned to the U.S. and on her way back to St. Louis made a surprise stop in Dayton, Ohio where George was working with his uncle for the summer at a construction site. Janet, wearing a wide brimmed hat, dark sunglasses and dressed to the nine's, marched up to the site to find George. She arrived looking like a Hollywood movie star, and Hollywood would be what George called her for many years! They married in St. Louis on June 9th, 1956 and were immediately taken overseas to Taiwan when George was commissioned through ROTC to serve in Taiwan in the aftermath of the Korean War. While in Taiwan they had their first child George John Zell. They returned from Taiwan and had Joe, Mary and Tom in quick succession. Moving to Bellerive Estates in Creve Coeur where they would stay for the next 36 years. While the kids were growing up Janet attended college at Fontbonne University and spent many years substitute teaching in the Parkway school system. She had many hobbies that included playing tennis with her girlfriends and kids, playing bridge, sewing, cooking and making many different kinds of crafts. She loved to travel the world when she was young and eventually would tour Europe with her son George when he was in college. Along the way she overcame many challenges including the very premature loss of her daughter, Mary, and later her son, George, but never lost her spirit. One of her passions later in life was participating in a charitable group organized by some of her closest friends, the Fontbonne Community Connection. She loved the opportunity to review the charitable programs they sponsored and see their impact. She also was an extremely loved and loving grandmother to Lauren and Kevin Zell. She cherished that their calls to her every week to check in. For the last 13 years she was inseparable from her beloved cocker spaniel, Maggie, who was usually in her lap or at her feet waiting for another treat. Everyone she met loved her for her smile and sense of humor. She will be deeply missed by George and her remaining family, and by more friends than we can count. Jan was a joy to all of us.

The family requests that memorial gifts be given in honor of Janet Zell to the Fontbonne Community Connection. Gifts can be given by sending checks payable to:
Fontbonne University
Attn: Advancement Office
6800 Wydown Blvd
St Louis Mo 63105

Or online by visiting www.fontbonne.edu/donate Viewing will be held at 10:00 a.m. before the 11:00 Mass at Incarnate Word Catholic Church, 13416 Olive St. Road, Chesterfield, 63017. (Woods Mill and Olive). Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery followed by reception at The Hallmark, #1 New Ballas Place, 63146.