Janis (Clarke) Meldahl passed away at home surrounded by family and friends on the evening of April 3, 2018 following a year-long battle with cancer.
To the end, Jan did things on her terms—epitomizing women’s liberation even if she wasn’t overtly political. Though born in Detroit, Michigan to Richard and Roberta Clarke on January 5, 1952, she was a California classic. Jan was the oldest only daughter of a Mad Men-era creative art director, and looked after her three brothers with love, affection, annoyance, and admiration throughout her life. Growing up in Southern California, she spent the Age of Aquarius on horseback, summers tanning beachside, writing poetry, attending Gordon Lightfoot concerts, and getting into all the appropriate trouble for her age and era.
She graduated from La Canada High School in 1970 and sporadically attended Chaffey College and U.C. Davis, working briefly for a horse trainer and then slinging cocktails at a time when women bartenders were still uncommon. Weekend trips with Nightwatch coworkers and roommates to Kirkwood Meadows stoked a passion for skiing, while her love of planes, trains, and automobiles led to a pilot’s license. However, Arabian horses were her enduring passion. Jan was a lifelong equestrian, falling in love with her first horse, Kassim, as a teenager and finding purpose, solace in two snow-white half sisters, DJ and Bailey, as an adult.
In 1975, she reconnected with Bob Meldahl, the close friend and roommate of an old boyfriend. They began dating, quickly cohabitated, and were married on October 23, 1976 in Arcadia, California. Jan worked as a travel agent and toured the country in support of her husband’s professional softball team, refining the wild streak she cultivated with aplomb in high school. At the age of 30 she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, yet, despite the debilitating progression of this disease, she never complained and never missed a beat. Forced to retire early, she decided to start a family and daughter Nicole was born in September 1984. Jan spent the next three decades devoted to her care while keeping the books for Bob’s thriving career as a Jockey’s Agent; she was the foundation for her little family of three.
She was also the nucleus of her entire family. The purchase of a classic sprawling ranch home in 1992 brought family from all corners of California to Arcadia for almost every holiday. As a widow, she sold this home in 2012 and permanently retired to Del Mar, California where she forged close friendships connected to her furry companions—groups she called her “Barn Buddies” and her “Dog Walking Friends.” After playing the role of caretaker for her husband and mother in their final years, she was able to indulge her love of travel with close friend Kim Rudenberg and finally took in the world—from Paris to Montreal, Arizona to Nantucket, and beyond. Her final adventure was a bucket list road trip to Monterey, California with daughter Nicole.
Jan was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Bobbie (Carter) Clarke, as well as her husband, Robert Meldahl; she is survived by her brothers, Richard Clarke of San Diego, William Clarke of Moraga, and Robert Clarke of Solvang, as well as her daughter, Nicole Meldahl of San Francisco. Graveside services will be held at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California, where she’ll be laid to rest near her father, on April 15. In lieu of flowers, Jan requested that donations be made to the San Diego Humane Society.
Janis Meldahl was whip smart and wise beyond her experiences, reading two newspapers each day and completing more crossword puzzles in a week than most people tackle in a lifetime. She loved the sound of the sea and the tone of wind chimes in the breeze; the color blue and animals big and small; she never forgot a birthday, and was always a phone call away for advice and comfort. There simply is no measurement for the void she’s left behind.
The family would like to extend a special note of gratitude to Dr. Samir Makani and his colleagues at Coastal Pulmonology, as well as her phenomenal SeaPoint and Rancho Bellamar neighbor friends, for all they did and continue to do.
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My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Your mother sounds like such a beautiful soul who lived a full life rich in all its best qualities and rewards of a compassionate being. May peace be with you.