Dorothy (Dottie/Dot) Jean Ann (Syester) Jankus, 82, passed peacefully at home on the morning of November 22, 2022. She was born in Hillsboro, Illinois on December 3, 1939, to the late Clyde Otis and Elizabeth (Ondrey) Syester. The youngest of seven children, she was doted on by her parents and siblings alike. When she was still little, the family moved to Phoenixville, PA, where she grew up in the middle of 500 acres of woods and farmland. She loved dance, horses, the outdoors, and all things Native American and Old West. She was never able to have a horse of her own, nor did she ever get to travel out west like she’d dreamed, but she was an avid collector of anything to do with these subjects.
Before graduating from Phoenixville High School in 1958, she met a handsome young man enlisted in in the Army with a heavy Lithuanian accent. They dated, fell in love, and on April 4, 1959, she married Jonas S. Jankus. They lived an amazing 58 years together until his passing in 2018.
Dottie worked several secretarial jobs both in Pennsylvania and later, after her and Jonas moved to Georgia, at Ft. Gordon. Around the late 1970’s, they decided to break from the norm and became self-employed as J & D Paint Contractors. She and Jonas enjoyed painting side by side until their retirement in the early 2000’s.
Life was not always easy for Dottie, however. Not only had she been upended by moving so far from her family when they came to Georgia, but she also experienced heartbreaking loss when their firstborn, Raymond James, succumbed to Leukemia in 1963.
Around the mid 1960’s, she converted to Roman Catholicism, and if asked, she’d tell you she came to her faith slowly. But when it came, it overwhelmed her to the point that she had share the joy of her faith with everyone she knew. For many years she and Jonas were active in their parish of St. Michael’s at Ft. Gordon, where they helped wherever needed, taught CCD, and even participated as presenters with Marriage Encounters for a time. Later, they became parishioners of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown.
Dottie lived her life with exuberance. You would never find her quiet or still; she was always busy. After retirement, her days were filled in the yard fine tuning the massive gardens she planted. But she was not a sit on a mat and pick flowers kind of woman. No, she was the type to jump on the lawnmowers, pick up shovels and ladders and rakes, and even wield a chainsaw if it meant getting something done to her satisfaction. She often said she felt closest to God when she worked outside.
Visitors were always welcome and she’d drop everything to offer a cup of coffee, a seat, and an enjoyable hour or two of conversation. Even toward the end, when family, friends, or even the nurses or aids stopped by and visiting may have been difficult, she’d make it a point to ask how they were and yes, still occasionally offer a cup of coffee.
Everyone would also tell you a shining trait of hers was her capacity for love. She not only spoke of how important it is it love others, even in the dark times, but she lived by example. She would share the truth of how it is vital to love somebody where they are and not where you want them to be; that love is a gift freely given and we should never hold back.
She is and will be missed by all those who knew her. She is predeceased by her siblings: Nadine Hornback, Clyde Syester, Jr., Eloise Bathurst, Irene Lowe, Earl Syester, and Joanne Gurunlian. She is survived by her children Robert Jankus (Sheila), Rena Rawlins (the late Stanley), and Christopher Jankus; her five grandchildren: Savannah (David), Stephen (Jennifer), Gabriel, Michael, and Anthony, and her four great-grandchildren: Dustin, Anslee, Tessa, and Colton, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, 4921 Columbia Rd, Grovetown, GA, on December 15, 2022, at 3 PM, with interment immediately following at the columbarium on site. Live Stream will be also be available through the church website. All are welcome to attend.