Janis Schwebpke, 1991

That’s the punch line of the story I’ll remember most vividly about Janis Schwebke.

I met Janis when she must have just gotten out of high school in 1967. She was one of three Kerns’ daughters who worked at the McHenry County Treasurer’s Office processing tax bills after the regular employees went home. They were largely self-supervised with no complaints that the evening shift did not work diligently.

Janis was the baby of the three sisters. I think Marsha Latham was the oldest. Marsha must have passed her love of joking onto Janis. Sister Marilyn Phalin, I remember as the quietest.

Roger and Janis Schwebke at a Kiwanis event in the early 1990's.

When I ran for State Representative in 1972, Janis was there in the courthouse looking at the results showing me running first. I know that because I had a picture of her from the front page of the Woodstock Sentinel standing in the Old Courthouse. (Wish I could find it!)

We reconnected when she and her late husband Roger operating Westlane Bowling Alley on Route 14 near Route 176. Janis was probably convinced by Brian Cunat to join the new Crystal Lake Breakfast Kiwanis Club that was formed in the late 1980’s.

Janis Schwebke at a Kiwanis District Convention.

My wife, Michele, the first president, was fortunate to meet Janis, too. They got to know each other better when my wife was in a bowling league there after we got married.

Janis followed my wife as president of the Kiwanis Club.

To say that Janis’ and Roger’s loss of daughter Jill was devastating is a gross understatement. Vibrant young woman working at Crystal Lake’s Dollar Video. Here one day and gone the very next. Janis and I could relate to lost daughters.

Both Janis and Michele went to the International Kiwanis Convention in Los Angeles. They had a fun, hard day at Disney Land one day.

They were sleeping in the same bed and my wife woke up. She thought Janis was having a seizure, the bed was shaking so much.

As my wife was trying to wake her up, they both sat up and shouted to each other,
“Earthquke!” What a sight. Janis went right back to sleep. Michele stayed up and panicked.

The Breakfast Club folded and the noon club did, too. The later was a real shame because it was the first service club in Crystal Lake, predating Rotary by well over a decade.

Janis Schebke and Uncle Scrooge in Disneyland in 1991.

When Brian Cunat was rising in the ranks to International President of Kiwanis, he and Janis decided to re-start a club in Crystal Lake. Janis called me.

What could I say?

Without Kiwanis, I would have not met my wife of almost 20 years now.

We were out of town when Roger’s memorial service was held last summer and we’ll be gone for Jainis’, too.

But Janis is one whose memory is indelibly etched on the Skinners’ minds.

Janis died at age 62 on April 9, 2010. We will cherish her memory as one of the liveliest and giving persons we knew.

A memorial gathering will be 9 AM until the memorial service at 10 AM Saturday, May 1, at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in McHenry.


“Earthquake!” — 1 Comment

  1. I think of her often – almost daily. She was an aunt to me and I miss her dearly.

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