Janet Elaine (Bouclin) Shuster passed away, after living a life overflowing, without "rhyme or reason," on January 1, 2018, at age 72.
Janet was born in Providence on October 16, 1945, the first child to Edward and Shirley Bouclin (both deceased). She lived her childhood in the Edgewood neighborhood of Cranston, on Arnold Avenue and Harbour Terrace, and early in her life learned to sail and race on Beetle Cats at the Edgewood Yacht Club, of which she was still a member at the time of her death. She graduated from Cranston High School East in 1963 and from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York (now part of Fordham University) in 1967, with a degree in political science with honors, becoming especially proficient in the French and Russian languages and developing a lifelong interest in European history and culture. She was married to George W. Shuster, Sr. from 1967 through 1983. After teaching parochial school in East Boston in the late 1960s, Janet bore three children, all of whom survive her: Jennifer L. Mann (married to Leslie B. Mann) of Cowesett; George W. Shuster, Jr. (married to Stephanie L. Van Patten), of Riverview; and Katharine Y. Correll (married to B. Alex Correll), of Charlotte. She was a member of the Junior League of Providence (now of Rhode Island) and chair of its annual antique show fundraiser, she was a president of the John Brown Francis Elementary School PTA and of the Governor Francis Farms Garden Club, and she served on the board of directors of the Sophia Little Home in Cranston. In her 40s she returned to school at night and attained her master's degree in guidance & counseling from Providence College, then returned to work in education, teaching special education at Pilgrim High School for 26 years prior to retiring in the summer of 2016.
Janet displayed an outsized kindness to her students and taught them, above all, the dignity of their own lives, and she thrived at her job despite many challenges. Janet lived most of her adult life in Warwick, for 37 years on Osage Drive in the Governor Francis Farms neighborhood and then in the Riverview neighborhood. She loved to travel, whether driving her kids to Manhattan, white-knuckled while passing trucks on the Bruckner Expressway, or heading off to Disney World, or to Bermuda, or to somewhere close by for the day. Later in life, she traveled to Europe each year for decades, with her students, friends, sister, children, and grandchildren, and sometimes alone, covering ground from Amsterdam to Sicily and from Morocco to Munich. She loved Narragansett Bay and its shoreline and spent many summer days, for decades, at the Bonnet Shores Beach Club. She was, at times, a capable skier, tennis player, league bowler, swimmer, bicycle rider and word jumble and crossword player, passing these pleasures on to her children and grandchildren. Even late into her life she could ably skipper her son's Beetle Cat, named Seashell and numbered 52 after her own childhood Beetle Cat, around the "milk jug" in the Providence River, feeling a lift before it was humanly possible to do so and explaining that "you just have to play with it." She was a voracious reader and sometimes cinephile. At times, her somewhat incongruent interest in football, especially the Patriots, the Steelers, and the Ivy League, would emerge. She played a mean game of bocce when she tried. Janet was quick to pick up conversation with strangers and found great joy in learning from the experiences of others. Janet was a shopper and a collector-she enjoyed antiques, bargains, and haggling-and she found joy in browsing the aisles of antiques stores and shows, including on pilgrimages to Brimfield, and in shopping anywhere with her daughters and granddaughters. Her collection of paintings left little space on her walls, and every door had an antique doorstop. Janet enjoyed the theater, musicals, and museums, especially the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, of which she was a member for many years, sharing the excitement of her experiences with all who cared to listen. She was an avid gardener and enjoyed spending time in her yard and talking about the improvements she would make, whether "ripping things out" or traveling far and wide to find the best additional plants.
Born a Roman Catholic and in her youth a member of the congregation of St. Paul's Church, Edgewood, she was later a dedicated Episcopalian for over 40 years, attending first St. Mark's Church, Hoxsie, and then St. Barnabas Church, Apponaug. Talking to Janet about the week's sermon after church was often more interesting than the sermon itself. She was an excellent and productive cook (best chocolate chip cookies ever) and ardent holiday host (including her famous Jello mold). She adored Christmas with a fervency unknown to most, including her recent last Christmas, where she enjoyed watching her children and grandchildren decorate her house, playing Yankee Swap, unwrapping presents with her family surrounding her, and hearing her grandchildren carol to her. If there is food in heaven, she is eating clear clam chowder and lobster, sipping on an Awful Awful, red wine to follow. Janet was a "dog person" and, in addition to the company of her own dogs in childhood and adulthood, Happy, Frisky, Ragsy, and Zooey, she was always keen to spend time with her children's dogs, Jackson, Bonnet, and Roxie. She was a legendary caretaker of goldfish, her secret being a nearby clock radio. Quick to form opinions and slow, if at all, in changing them, she loved Nantucket but hated Martha's Vineyard; was disgusted by poultry except chicken salad (including her own recipe, faithfully made for the annual St. Mark's Christmas pageant reception, annual family bocce tournament, and other occasions); far preferred sail over power; embraced New Hampshire skiing but ignored Vermont; and wore dresses and skirts nearly always, not being known to own sneakers or jeans for at least the past several decades.
She had few good friends, but those she considered friends she loved deeply. She was a loving sister, aunt, and niece. She was immensely proud of her five grandchildren, Natalie Mann, Greta Shuster, Alexander Mann, Georgia Shuster, and Coverly Correll. Had she been given more worldly time, Janet would have continued being Janet, and all of us would have been the better for that. She will be remembered for her work ethic, her boundless energy and enthusiasm, her graciousness, her "hocus pocus" focus, her eternal optimism, and, above all, for her faith, unsinkable courage, and self-awareness even in the face of adversity and death. Among her oft-repeated last words were, "I don't know."
A funeral mass will be held at St. Paul's Church, 30 Warwick Avenue, Cranston, at 11 a.m. on February 3rd.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Janet E. Shuster Special Education Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, One Union Station, Providence, RI 02903, would be greatly appreciated.