Janet Marie McElwain O’Connell, 71, passed away peacefully on October 21, 2022 after a very brave battle with ovarian cancer. She was surrounded by her children and her husband.
Jan was born in Deer Lodge, Montana on November 17, 1950 to Hugh McElwain and Martha Speer McElwain. In 1952 the family moved to the little house with the big chimney at Fort Missoula. After graduating from Sentinel High School, Janet moved to Helena where she met Rick O’Connell. They married on July 31, 1971, in Marysville Montana.
Jan had several different careers. She was the reluctant co-founder of the Marysville House with Rick, worked in estate sales with her mother-in-law, and was in retail clothing sales before settling into furniture sales at Ruckers Furniture. She helped many Helena families turn their houses into homes during the 20 years she worked there.
Jan’s most loved job was as a mom to Ryan, Shane, and Kelsey. She provided her children gentle guidance, wise advice, and unconditional support. She became a Mimi in 2001, and she and Rick loved caring for and playing with their grandkids.
After Jan retired, she and Rick spent much of their time at their cabin. She prided herself in the beautiful flowers that she grew both there and at home. Her other hobbies included playing pinochle with her long-standing group, putting a five in, paving the information super highway with her sister, spoiling her grandkids, and worrying about and loving her children endlessly.
Jan is survived by the love of her life, Rick; her children Ryan O’Connell (Alissa), Shane O’Connell (Kerrigan), and Kelsey Ashmore (Matt); siblings Tom McElwain (Carol) and Johanna (Jone) Hayes (Mike); grandchildren Kyler and Logan O’Connell, Brennan and Casey O’Connell, Keira and Jack Ashmore, and Logan and Gavin Beattie; sisters-in-law Colleen Nichols (Dan) and Deb Peterson; brother-in-law Bobby O’Connell; and too many friends and family to list, all of whom held a special place in her heart.
A service will be held at Anderson Stevenson Wilke Mortuary on Friday, October 28 at 1 pm, with a reception following at Jorgenson’s. In lieu of flowers, Jan requested donations to St. Peter’s Hospice or Helena Food Share.
We are thankful for the extraordinary care Jan received from Dr. Elizabeth Bigger and the staff at Cancer Treatment Center, St. Peter’s Hospice, and Dr. Meghan Peterson from Billings Clinic.
We will love you forever, Mom. See you later.