Janice Virginia Walk died peacefully at her home in North Truro on Feb. 28, 2021, with her spouse, Janis Sommers, by her side. She was 70. The cause was the accumulated effects of 14 years of cancer treatments. Her obituary was delayed because the pandemic set back plans for a memorial gathering.
The daughter of Jack and Jennette (Tomlinson) Walk, Janice was born in Millville, N.J. on Aug. 19, 1950. Before graduating from Millville High School in 1968, she studied art with Pat Witt, founder of The Barn Studio of Art. She graduated from Douglass College at Rutgers University, New Brunswick in 1972 with a degree in studio art; Douglass is the only all-women residential college at a public university in the U.S.
Soon after graduation, Janice moved to Provincetown, where over the next nearly half century she became known as an artist, craftswoman, informal teacher, and dedicated social worker.
Janice’s paintings and wood inlays were characterized by meticulous detail. These works, depicting fish, lighthouses, boats, whales, and dune shacks, were shown at the Art Shack on MacMillan Pier and the Black Crow Gallery in Sandwich.
While working at her art on the pier, Janice talked with visitors from all over the world. Children especially loved her. She would explain her artistic practices to anyone who asked and add stories of Provincetown’s fishing industry and art history. She hoped visitors would appreciate not only her art but the uniqueness of the town.
When AIDS arrived in Provincetown in the early 1980s, Janice was one of the hundreds of residents who helped those who were infected. In the mid-1980s, she enrolled at Boston University, earning a master’s degree in social work. She worked at Mass. General Hospital’s Methadone Clinic for five years before returning to Provincetown to work for six years with the AIDS Support Group and to run her own private practice.
Her work with AIDS survivors was presented at a Chicago medical conference in 1996 and in the documentary directed by Catherine Russo titled Safe Harbor Provincetown: A Community Responds to AIDS 1983-1993.
Later, Janice closed her therapy practice to take care of her parents in Gulfport, Fla. After they died, she returned to the Outer Cape to be with her longtime friends, who helped her through her experiences with cancer.
Janice had many gifts: she played recorder in a small group and she sang with the Outer Cape Chorale and Choir at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House in Provincetown. She was also a masterful Jeopardy player and would have won millions, her spouse Janis said, had she ever appeared on the show.
While Janice never complained during her years of cancer treatments, she knew how to whine, with tongue firmly in cheek, to get her wishes fulfilled. She is credited with teaching dogs to whine for dinner table scraps. Her adult human friends, who were never allowed to whine as children, learned the skill under her tutelage, according to Janis.
Janice brought her intelligence, wit, easy laugh, and passion for life to everything she did. She loved her cat, Button, and her friends Lisa Hull and Katina Rodis. During her illness, she was a member of the HOW Cancer Support Group and loved driving her wheelchair to meetings at the Truro library.
A Leo, Janice’s self-confidence never wavered. She considered the Provincetown Carnival parade, usually on or near her birthday, her personal birthday procession.
Janice was grateful to the Visiting Nurse Association Hospice nurses and health aides for their love and care, and especially to Karen Reynolds.
She was predeceased by her friends Judy Poor, Ann McCord, Eileen Bindell, Janice Platner, and Kelly Kelman and her cousin, Nancy Witt Mulick.
A celebration of Janice’s life, which she planned with her partner, will take place on May 6, 2022 at Four Eleven Gallery, 411 Commercial St., Provincetown. There, her art, along with pieces donated by many of her Provincetown artist colleagues, will be sold to raise money for accessibility renovations at the Lily House, a recently opened hospice residence in Wellfleet.
For more information contact Janis Sommers at 774-722-9717 or [email protected].
Obituaries in the Independent
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