Someone you never want to lose

As posted to her Facebook page:

Jan Graham Borelli, age 55, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. Born April 10, 1954 in Chattanooga, TN. She is the daughter of Dr. Frank B. Graham, III and Dorothy Hall Graham. Jan was an outstanding educator of more than 30 years known for her dedication to her students no matter what their age. Most recently she was the principal at Westwood Elementary School in the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) district where she had worked for a combined 17 years. While in the district she also served as principal at Roosevelt Middle School, Webster Middle School, Southeast High School and Northeast High School. Currently she was also employed as an adjunct professor at Southwest Baptist University and Kaplan University.

There’s a lot more, of course; we’re talking a seriously rich life. And somewhere it intersected with mine. On the subject of me, she once blogged:

If I weren’t happily married and tied down with all kinds of material debts, I would run off to Nova Scotia with him.

We never got that far, of course, though she did subsequently schlep me along to the Grill on the Hill. Capitol Hill, that is.

Some of you may remember this little incident:

The teachers and their students came up with the theme of the gift of education money from the lottery. The teachers gathered discarded, cancelled lottery tickets from convenience stores. The kids cut ornaments from the discarded tickets and even folded and cut some of the tickets into three-dimensional mathematical shapes. They cut the top tree star out of a lottery poster. Ping pong balls with numbers carefully written to mimic the big lottery drawing balls were strung together with twine and bows to complete the decoration. After school on Wednesday, the church across the street provided vans to take the kids up to the State Capitol to decorate the tree allocated for our school.

The Capitol was abuzz with excitement as children from schools from all over the state decorated their trees as we decorated ours. The Governor and his wife went from tree to tree and posed with the students from the different schools. Our children excitedly gathered around the Governor, the Mrs. and Santa Claus to get their pictures taken. We were so proud of our tree and our creative theme.

Then the bottom fell out:

[A radio] reporter accused us of having our children sell lottery tickets. We were accused of an inappropriate display to publicize the lottery. We were accused of a lot of heinous things. What had started out as a clever idea turned out to be a sinister plot to undermine the morality of our culture.

When our annual event was over that afternoon, I called the state representative whom the radio station (and subsequently the television station) told us had called them about the tree. I apologized to him for having caused such heart burn. I explained that we had no intention of making a political statement and would gladly remove the tree. I did not wish this nastiness to besmirch our children or embarrass our Governor who had allowed the children of our state to decorate Capitol Christmas trees. I hope our controversy will not ruin this event for all the children and schools.

I followed it up here, which is how she discovered my existence.

And you know, I’d miss someone like this even if she weren’t a pretty blonde with a fabulous smile and a brain the size of a planet.

Fare thee well, Dr. Jan. See if you can knock some sense into those angels.


  1. ms7168 »

    12 February 2010 · 10:54 am

    I saw her obit in the paper this morning and the name looked familiar.

  2. no one »

    12 February 2010 · 2:09 pm

    I worked with her on various projects. She was quite dedicated.

    She broke her arm a little while back and went right back to work. I remember her sitting outside mointering recess while in her cast (and in some pain). She was a hoot in many ways and I shall miss her.

    I did not expect to see her name on your blog. Small world.

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