Mary Lee Janis, 81

Longtime Oak Park resident, Mary Lee Janis, 81, died peacefully on July 18, 2020. She graduated from Trinity High School and later earned a bachelor’s degree in History from Dominican University.

She and her husband, Patrick Janis, moved to Oak Park in 1966. They raised four children as well as many foster children. She worked as a bookkeeper for the family’s business (the United States Tennis Gut Association) and as an assistant for an interior design company. 

The couple contributed to many important causes in the community. They were involved in the creation of the Oak Park Housing Center and were investors in the Wednesday Journal.

She had a love for history and culture as seen by her travels around the world. She and her husband traveled across Europe and to Egypt, Turkey, and Vietnam. She was a strong believer in equality, internationalism, and progressivism. 

An excellent chef, she loved to share her dishes with family and friends. Her recipes were often inspired by Julia Childs, Jacque Pipen, or Rick Bayless — and she executed them to perfection. 

Fiercely loving and supportive of family and friends, her kindness and generosity live on in all the family and friends whose lives they touched. 

Mary Lee was preceded in death by Patrick, her husband of 56 years, and her son, Patrick John. She is survived by her children, Maureen Skelton, Christopher (Victoria) Janis, and Sheila (Juan Buenrostro) Janis; her grandchildren, Tom Skelton, Julian and Pat Janis, and Maya and Elena Buenrostro; her beloved dog Penny, and many friends.

A celebration of her life is planned for a later date when the coronavirus has abated more.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mary Lee’s name to Housing Forward (formerly PADS homeless shelter program), Grateful House, and the Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry.

Join the discussion on social media!