Janine's Story

MARS HILL AND JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Janine Catherine Saucier Wheeler was a beautiful spirit who graced this earth for a short 49 years. She lived life by her own high standards in her faith, service to others, and relationships. Her ability to put a positive light on some of the most difficult situations was astonishing. Early on Saturday, December 19, 2015, Janine died, unexpectedly, at the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, Columbia, Mo., after valiantly battling cancer over the previous 12 months.

Janine was born on July 8, 1966, in New Haven, CT, the only daughter and fourth child of Thomas and Judith (Hudak) Saucier.

She grew up in Mars Hill, where she graduated from Central Aroostook High School. She later earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Columbia College in Missouri, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Growing up with four brothers was not always an easy task, and she learned to enjoy their loving and gentle teasing and developed her own unique sense of humor in return. Many of the nicknames from her four brothers, each with a story of its own, include: Neenee, Neen, Neen Bean, Beanie, Beano, and especially, J9 (Janine). "Walk the Line 4J9" was the name chosen to honor her by her Relay for Life cancer team in Jefferson City, MO. As the only female child, her chosen email address was tfd (the favorite daughter).

Janine proudly served our country in the US Air Force from February of 1985 to July of 1991, including support for Operation Desert Storm. She was awarded many honors and medals for her loyalty, integrity, execution of orders, and excellence as an Administrative Specialist. It is during that time that John Patrick Wheeler met Janine, the love of his life. They were united in marriage on November 1, 1986, in Alexandria, Louisiana, and shared a fun loving, adventurous life together, full of witty banter, lightness of heart, dreams of the future, and a deep irreplaceable love and friendship. They raised three beautiful daughters and filled their lives with joy, laughter, delicious aromas from the kitchen, family movie nights, and the many adopted cherished shelter pets they rescued. "Cruiser" will be missing her.

For the past 20 years, the family made their home in Jefferson City, Missouri, where Janine continued to serve others as a mentor for troubled youth in the Jefferson City Public School System, and was active in PTO. She was the caregiver and advocate for their special needs daughter, Rachael, and was a repeated participant in the Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics, among many other supportive events for special needs children. She also was a devoted caregiver of her father-in-law, Harold Wheeler, in his last years of life. When her husband, John, was deployed to Iraq, Janine lead several fundraising activities for our troops overseas and their families in the states and continued to support them after his return.

She sought to learn and was an avid reader. She enjoyed gardening in the yard and, with her love of cooking, experimenting with different recipes in the kitchen. She introduced her extended Midwestern family to fiddleheads, oyster stuffing, and the best ever blue potato salad!

Janine's family joyfully anticipated her homecomings each time she returned. She kept busy cooking sweets and spending time with her nieces and nephews and preparing delicious meals for the adults, too. Her home state of Maine always held a special place in Janine's heart. She and Rachael spent several summers in Maine visiting her entire family, north to south, and at No. 9 Lake, a cherished retreat of peace and tranquility. Her stories of childhood memories in Maine, trips to the Connecticut shore, and her beloved extended family there, were heartwarming.

This past October, a new dimension was added to her life, with the birth of her and John's first grandchild, Harrison. Holding him, she beamed pure love and joy. Janine was a force of nature and left a little light wherever she went. Her spirit and the joy she brought to all will live on in her family, friends and loved ones as well as her laughter and smile.

Janine is survived by her loving husband, John; and daughters, Rachael, of Jefferson City, MO; Jessica and husband, Andrew Crook, and grandson, Harrison, of California, MO; and Emily and fiancee, Richard Hess III, of Overland Park, KS. She is also survived by her parents of Mars Hill, and brothers, all of Maine, Thomas W. and wife, Sue, of Topsham; Matthew and Joshua of Bangor; Jeffrey and wife, Joy of Presque Isle; surrogate sister, Danielle Saucier of Winterport; uncle, Gregory Hudak of Brewer; aunt, Margaret Meisel of Hawthorne, FL; many loved and loving cousins, nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers-in-law.

Services were held at Wesley United Methodist Church and interment with full military honors at Riverview Cemetery, Jefferson City, MO. Those who wish to remember Janine may contribute in her memory to a charity of their choice or Cole County Residential Services, 1908 Boggs Creek Rd., Jefferson City, MO, 651015580, an entity that serves the special needs community of Cole County Missouri. The staff there took excellent care of Rachael when John and Janine needed them most, and continues to support John in any and all ways in helping with Rachael. The family's appreciation is beyond words.

A celebration of Janine's life will begin with a Mass in her honor on her birthday, Friday, July 8, at 1:30 p.m. at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Mars Hill. Friends and relatives are invited to visit with the family preceding Mass, from 12:30 p.m. until Mass time.

A time of fellowship and refreshments will be held in the reception hall following Mass.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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