HEATHSVILLE—Julianne Balmer “Jan” Bates, 71, of Heathsville passed away peacefully on March 18, 2018 at her home.
She was the daughter of Daniel Turner Balmer of McGees Mills, Pa., and Julianne Jackson Balmer of Little Rock, Ark.
Jan is survived by her husband, Stockton T. Bates, originally of Doylestown, Pa.; daughter, Julianne Greco (Steve), and grandchildren, Annie, Jackson and Shane of Nazareth, Pa.; son, Bradford Bates (Susan), and grandchildren, Turner and Abigail of Wicomico; sister, Ruth Balmer “BE” Young of Coatesville, Pa.; and multiple nieces and nephews, all of whom she cherished and loved.
Jan was a graduate of Park College in Kansas City, Mo., where she earned her degree in elementary education. There, she met her husband and began her teaching career in 1968.
Jan taught in Doylestown, Pa., Milford, N.J., Baptistown Christian Day School in N.J., and for many years in Flemington, N.J. Jan became a certified Reading Recovery specialist during her tenure in Flemington schools.
When she retired from her position in N.J., she brought her skills to Heathsville, where she and her husband laid roots in a sunlit home they built on the Great Wicomico River. She established and spearheaded Reading Recovery in Northumberland County, teaching children to read and bringing literacy into the homes of countless families in the area. She was very involved in the local chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa – International Honorary Organization for Women Educators for many years.
In 2010, Jan was honored as one of Virginia State’s Super Teachers of the Year. She taught at Northumberland Elementary School in Heathsville until she retired from teaching in 2011. Jan promptly joined the staff of the Northumberland Public Library as support staff where she applied her skills and love of reading to children of the Northern Neck from preschool through all grades with special outreach to home-schooled youth and their families.
Jan established a formal Black History Month Program that continues today. She was instrumental in bringing “One School, One Book” to Northumberland schools, and encouraged the construction of Little Free Libraries around the county. Jan established a summer reading program that was incorporated in the Northumberland YMCA.
Jan sought to create a child-friendly reading area within the local library that sported life-sized figures including the BFG and Cat in the Hat, but also real-life community heroes, with whom she connected. Jan arranged for regular petting zoos, the first of which created such congestion on Route 360, the local law enforcement was recruited to manage traffic.
She taught swimming lessons and was a lifeguard in Hot Springs, Arkansas for the Hot Springs YMCA. Upon retirement, she recognized a need in the community for basic swim instruction and facilitated a summer school and swim lesson co-op with the YMCA. Recently, she began a connection with the Rappahannock Concert Association, for which babies ages 3 to 4 years will be given instruments to play while experiencing the world of orchestral music.
For more than 30 years, Jan worked with her daughter and husband producing and selling artisan block-printed ladies clothing at craftshows “on the side.”
She liked to travel and hike with her friends and family. Jan loved the beach and spent many cherished times with her girlfriends from New Jersey, sunning and funning. After retirement, Jan and her husband, Stock, embarked on many adventures through U.S. National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, Alaska, Dry Tortugas and the Smoky Mountains. They not only visited, but hiked and experienced the history and beauty of each destination together. On a few trips, they were joined by Jan’s sister, BE, or their kids and grandkids with whom they created memories of a lifetime.
She was a true treasure to the Northern Neck where her extraordinary gifts and boundless energy served to connect adults across all communities to provide for the common good of all children.
Jan cherished deeply her friendships near and far.
She meant the world to her grandchildren, but not as much as they meant to her, and she showed them in every way possible. Jan loved her family, her son, her daughter, and her devoted husband, unconditionally and without reservation.
A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 435 East Church Street, Kilmarnock. Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Northumberland Public Library, 7204 Northumberland Highway, Heathsville, VA 22473.