2011-04-14 / Obituaries

Janet Schaus

Janet Schaus, an educator, author and greatgrandmother of 13, died at Duncaster Lifecare Community in Bloomfield, Conn., on April 4, 2011. She was 106.

Duncaster has been her legal address since 1985, however, for the first 15 years she spent most of her time between a home in Jamestown, an apartment in Paris and visiting her four grandchildren.

Lucibel Taylor was born March 2, 1905, in Royce City, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Alexander and Amanda Taylor moved their family to Ballinger where Lucibel attended local schools, enrolled in Southern Methodist University and graduated in 1925. She became a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1926. After graduation she read for numerous plays on Broadway. She was told that Lucibel was not a suitable stage name and became known as Janet Taylor.

Neither the name change nor her classmate, Rosalind Russell, proved to substantially help her Broadway ambitions. She was then known as Janet for the rest of her life, except for her family in Texas who continued to call her Lucibel.

She met Hermann Schaus Jr. in New York and they were married Dec. 26, 1929, in Dallas. They spent considerable time at the Schaus family home in Jamestown. In 1930 they settled in White Plains, N.Y, where they had their only child, Nicholas, in 1932.

In the midst of the Depression, the young couple decided to seek a new life in Texas in 1934. The family boarded a ship in New York and sailed to Galveston, Texas.

Hermann Schaus subsequently enrolled at the University of Texas, graduated and began teaching English literature. In Austin, Janet continued her interest in the arts by taking courses at the university, which lead to more study of expression and linguistics.

The family left Texas and moved to Jamestown in 1946 where Janet spent several years teaching in the Jamestown School Department and applying her skills of linguistics. This practical laboratory helped develop her ideas about the connection of speaking, writing and reading. This coordinated approach produced some remarkable achievements for many of her students. She co-authored four textbooks for basic reading. She became a specialist in the school system and a pioneer in applying linguistics and phonics in the elementary grades. In the midst of her professional career she obtained a Master of Education degree from Boston University in 1954.

In her years after retirement, she would often be approached by former students in Jamestown, who expressed their appreciation and thanks for being able to read and write. In the 1970s Janet and her husband traveled to Europe. Hermann Schaus died in 1978.

For several years during the winter she studied at Alliance Francaise in Paris and continued her studies of languages. She participated in numerous plays and theatrical productions produced by Duncaster residents. In the summer months in Jamestown she enjoyed the visits of her four grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. They named their 23- foot sailboat, Lucibel. She laughed that her new name of “Janet” never made the marquee lights, but her Texas name of “Lucibel” was highlighted on a boat’s transom. But it was yet another name, “Monina,” which was used by all of the 22 members of her immediate family.

In 2009, her 18-year-old greatgrandchild wrote about her for a school paper: “In many ways, I see Monina as my American history lesson. She is part of and has participated in the times that have defined this nation. I can only imagine what the world might be like if I were to live to be 104. My hope beyond all hopes is that 86 years from now I will be able to look back upon a life as full of challenge, change, learning and love, as Monina can now, and that through the wonders of science, yet, be able to remember it all.”

She leaves a sister, Doris Miller of Tulsa, Okla.; a son and daughter in law, Nicholas and Barbara Schaus of Vero Beach, Fla.; three granddaughters: Lela Schaus Philip of Greenwich, Conn., Wendell Schaus Brown of Rumford, and Deirdre Schaus Painter of Concord, Mass.; and a grandson, Michael Nicholas Schaus of Greenwich, Conn. She also leaves 13 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Mark Church on Monday, April 25, at 10 a.m.

Memorial contributions may be made in her name to Conanicut Island Land Trust, P.O. Box 106, Jamestown, RI 02835.

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