Janet Bruton Varn

Janet Bruton Varn, 71, of Oak Park, died peacefully at home on Saturday, July 3, 2021, surrounded by her family, after dealing with breast cancer for five years. Born in Chicago on April 11, 1950, in Visitation Parish on the South Side, she lived in the Washington D.C., area for much of her adult life, developing educational travel for the Smithsonian Institution and Academic Travel Abroad. She visited much of the world, but especially connected with the American Southwest in southeastern Utah. She moved to Oak Park first in 1998 for nine years, then returned in 2013.

Family was always the most important focus of her life. She was devoted to encouraging and supporting her children in their educations and various personal pursuits. She took great pleasure in exposing her family to the many cultures around the world, especially deepening the connection with her relatives in Ireland. She had a gift for developing many deep and lasting friendships.

In the last several years, she volunteered with the Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah, educating people on respectful visiting of Native American heritage sites. She also volunteered at the Bluff Elementary School, helping third-graders with reading. Having been singled out as the only non-Native American to receive a gift of vegetables at a Hopi ceremony, she felt a particular kinship with the Hopi and contributed to their emergency fund during the pandemic. Anyone wishing to remember Janet is invited to make a contribution to the Hopi Emergency Relief Fund at https://www.hopifoundation.org/hopi-emergency-relief.

She will be achingly missed, but leaves behind a much brighter world and many open minds with the spark of curiosity and the compassion to look out for others. A celebration of Janet’s life is being planned, but no date has been set.

Janet was the great joy in the lives of Doug, her husband of almost 47 years; their children, Gaelan (Kurt Sampson), James (Kelsey Mitchell), Colin, and Daniel (Ioanna Aguilar); two grandchildren, Isla and William Sampson; and many treasured nieces and nephews. She will be missed by her brothers, Bob Bruton, Dan Bruton, and Reilly Tierney. Her sister, Colleen Bruton, preceded her in death, as did her brother, Kevin Bruton, and her parents, John Bruton and Mary Jane (Faloon) Bruton.

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