She was born on October 9, 1949, in Williston, ND, to John Garvin and Dorothy Jacobson. On the family farm outside of Alexander, ND, Janet cultivated her loves of reading books, playing the piano and organ, and raising animals. She had fond memories of riding to school on her horse and leaving it on the school football field during the class day. Janet traveled to Sweden as a foreign exchange student in her high school junior year, gaining a Swedish sister, Inger. She excelled academically, graduating high school top of her class while balancing cheerleading, socializing and home life.
Janet studied at Cottey College in Nevada, MO, where she met many lifelong friends. She followed in the footsteps of her mother, graduated cum laude from University of North Dakota in elementary and early childhood education. She earned a Master’s degree in early childhood education from Eastern Montana College (now Montana State University-Billings).
After college, Janet worked as a kindergarten teacher in Lodge Grass and Wyola, MT. Students loved her and her menagerie of animals: rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, dogs, fish, cats, lizards and a monkey. She fell in love with Gary Stevenson of Lodge Grass, MT, the local grocer and they wed in 1972. Janet retired from teaching after their two daughters, Jill and Kaja, were born.
In 1982, Gary and Janet moved to Hardin, MT, to expand the grocery business. They quickly became active in the community helping to build the Hardin Food Bank, diligently working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Big Horn County Historical Museum. Gary and Janet retired from the grocery store in 2004 and they moved to Billings in 2010.
Janet’s wide interests included: playing the piano and organ for many churches – especially during the holidays, teaching Sunday school and volunteering at the Big Horn County Historical Museum gift shop. She was an active member with Hardin Christ E&R Church, Billings Joy Lutheran, P.E.O. Sisterhood, Eastern Star, Rainbow, Christian Women’s Club, Western Heritage Society, Coral of the Westerners, book clubs, bowling, and many quilt groups including Friday Finishers, quilt guild, Nimble Thimbles, to name a few. Janet loved travel and visited South Africa on safari, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Peru (Machu Pichu was #1 on her bucket list), China, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, most European countries and every US state except Rhode Island. Gary and Janet hosted four foreign exchange students: Nazgul from Kyrgyzstan, Michael from Germany, Alisher from Kazakhstan and Madleine from Germany. Jill’s best friend, Georgette Hogan (Sam) Boggio, lived with the Stevensons at times and Janet referred to her as her “other daughter”. Throughout her life, Janet was known for her love of friends, family, quilts, Native American art, books and music.
She is survived by her husband Gary Stevenson of Billings; daughters Jill (Brian Mathis) of Billings and Kaja (Charles Cavanaugh) of Phoenix, AZ; brothers James (Barbara) Jacobson of Alexander, ND, and John Jacobson of Swan Lake, MT; sister-in-law Nancy Caporale of Denver; brother-in-law Sam Stevenson of Lodge Grass; nieces and nephews Jon (Shelly) Jacobson, Todd (Terrille) Jacobson, Tami (Kevin) Nelson, Amber (Jeff) Hanig, Steven Caporale, Sonny (Kersten Bergstrom) Caporale, Brooke (Heath) Medicine Bull, and Gary Stevenson; and many extended family members.
Services will be held Saturday, January 11, 2020, 12 pm, Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church, 703 N. Cheyenne Ave., Hardin, MT 59034. Janet has been cremated and will be interred at the Jacobson plot in Alexander, ND, and the Stevenson plot in Lodge Grass, MT, with family ceremonies.
Memorials may be made to the Big Horn County Historical Museum, Cottey College Class of ‘69 scholarship, Hardin Christ E&R Church, Trinity Lutheran Church of Alexander, ND, or Billings Joy Lutheran Church. A special thanks to oncologist Dr. Silva and the Billings Clinic staff.
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