Janet Josephine Kaminsky Sullivan, 85, of Charlottesville, Va., died after a short illness on July 27, 2023, surrounded by her husband of 58 years, John Sullivan, and daughters, Nancy Sullivan and Maury Sullivan.
Born April 20, 1938, in Pittsburgh, Pa., she was the daughter of Emelia Mildred Michalec Kaminsky and Joseph Kaminsky. Her best friend and sister, Carole Nancy Coppersmith, preceded her in death.
Jan was a tomboy at heart and a lifelong lover of dogs (Pepper, Puddy, Fynne, Packy, Cassie, and Toby). Growing up, she worked in her family's grocery store, Kaminsky's Delicatessen, in Heidelberg, Pa., where she developed a lifelong love of candy and pop. Jan earned a BA from Mount Mercy College (now Carlow College) with a speech therapy and elementary education degree. After college, she and her sister Carole drove her gray Karmann Ghia cross country and moved to Long Beach, Calif., where she taught speech therapy.
She met her husband, John, leaving mass at Saint Bartholomew Church. They got coffee and browsed at Acres of Books on their first date. They shared a love of reading, especially mysteries, and in particular, Jan loved Donna Leon's books. They married in 1965 and moved to Bloomington, Ind., to further their education. She obtained a Master's in Speech Therapy from Indiana University.
In 1967 they moved to Charlottesville, Va., where John became a Professor at the University of Virginia in the Department of Speech and Drama (later called Rhetoric and Communication Studies). Jan started working for UVa as a clinical supervisor placing graduate school students in public schools to do their speech pathology practicums. She worked for UVa for over 30 years.
In her spare time, she enjoyed playing volleyball and tennis. She picked up pickleball before it was trendy and played ‘til she was 80. Her competitiveness could be seen on the court as a player and in the stands as a fan cheering on the UVA Women's Basketball team. She and John had season tickets and even traveled to see the team play.
She volunteered for the Emergency Food Bank for over 30 years. One of her favorite activities was spending time with her dogs. She trained her dog, Packy to be a therapy dog, and they regularly visited patients at Martha Jefferson House. When she met Kim Roll as a new neighbor, they immediately bonded over their Norwich Terriers. They spent many hours training and attending agility and nose work competitions with their dogs, Cassie and Topper.
Janet is survived by her husband, John Sullivan of Charlottesville, Va.; daughter, Nancy Sullivan of Denver, Colo.; and daughter, Maury Sullivan, son-in-law, Todd Pruner and grandsons, Link and Nels Pruner of Austin, Texas; nephew, Brian Coppersmith, his wife Amanda, and their children Matthew, Sean, and Nicole of Rossmoor, Calif.
Special thanks to her friends, Kim Roll and Gary Elwell, Diana and Tom Browning, Mary Elaine and Duane Bickers, and Helen Marlowe. Thank you to the staff at Martha Jefferson Hospital, especially Dr. Ansa, Dr. Shakhatreh, and nurses Luis and Gabrielle.
The inurnment will be private.
People can make memorial contributions to the following:
• Caring Tradition Fund for the Pet Therapy Program at MJH
o select Caring Tradition Fund in the drop-down menu
• International Refugee Committee - Charlottesville