Janet McCracken Lambert

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 2:51 pm

Janet McCracken Lambert, 85, of Decorah, died April 24, 2016, at the Barthell OES Home, following a brief illness. A memorial service is Saturday, June 4, at 11 a.m. at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 701 Iowa Avenue, Decorah, with a luncheon to follow. Visitation begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, at the church. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Barthell OES Nursing Home Van Fund, 911 Ridgewood Drive, Decorah, IA, 52101. The Schluter-Balik Funeral Home is serving the family.

Janet was born Nov. 10, 1930, to Hazel and Clarence McCracken, in Shaprsville, Pa. In 1944, the family moved across the country to Corvallis, Ore. to be near their oldest daughter, Mariellen (McCracken) Harper. After graduating from Corvallis High School in 1948, Janet went on to study elementary education, and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon College of Education in 1952. She began her teaching career in Roseburg, Ore., where she met Lyman Stuart Pruitt. The two were married in 1955, and moved to Ashland, Ore., where Janet continued teaching, and earned her Master of Science in Education from Southern Oregon College in 1957. The family remained in Ashland until 1968, when they moved back to Corvallis so that Janet could pursue a Doctor of Education at Oregon State University. While studying and doing her research, she also served as an instructor at Oregon State. In 1975 Janet began working as an administrator for the Salem Public Schools, first as the Title 1 director, and later as the supervisor of reading curriculum. During those years she also taught adult basic literacy classes at the Oregon State Penitentiary. In 1976, she and Lyman were divorced and Janet moved to Salem, Ore. In 1977 she was awarded her Doctor of Education. The primary focus of her research was the readability of social studies textbooks. (Turns out they weren’t very readable!) In 1983 Janet was briefly married to Harry Lambert. In 1988 Janet retired after 36 years of dedicated service in the public school system. But her retirement wasn’t to last long. In the fall of 1988 she moved to Charleston, Ill., to take up an appointment as associate professor of education at Eastern Illinois University. This big move, halfway across the country, was motivated not only by a desire to continue teaching, but also by her wish to live nearer to her daughter Marion, and two grandchildren, Owen and Rebecca. Janet taught at Eastern for 10 years, during which time she was active in both the Illinois Council of Reading and the International Reading Association. Janet’s strong belief in the value and importance of reading led her to continue her literacy work with inmates. In 1993 she helped to develop some of the earliest prototypes for long-distance learning and worked with the Illinois Department of Corrections to bring literacy classes into the prison system. In 1998 Janet retired for a second time, and in 2003 she moved to Decorah to be near her daughter. During her 13 years in Decorah she taught for Northeast Iowa Community College, served as a volunteer English teacher, participated in two book clubs, and was active in the League of Women Voters, the Winneshiek County Democratic Party and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Janet enjoyed traveling, and wasn’t afraid to head out on her own. She served with Global Volunteers, teaching English in Poland, Italy and Crete. She enjoyed a river cruise through Europe and another down the Mississippi, and took a sailing course on a tall ship out of Mobile, Ala. She visited Japan, Guam, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, New Zealand and Hudson Bay, Canada – where she participated in an expedition to view polar bears. Janet was very interested in politics and stayed well informed about state, local and national politics until the end of her life. She wasn’t shy about her strong liberal views, and contributed generously to a variety of causes. Janet leaves behind a legacy of activism and compassion for those less fortunate than herself, and a passion for education – most notably the many wonderful educational opportunities she provided for her grandchildren.

Janet is survived by her children, Marion Pruitt-Jefferson (John) of Decorah and Randall Pruitt of Los Angeles, Calif.; two grandchildren, Rebecca Miller, Sequoia National Park, Calif., Owen Miller, Coconut Grove, Fla.; six step-grandchildren: Jennifer Buchan (Michael), Joseph Jefferson, Julie Jefferson, Jason Jefferson, James Jefferson, Jillian Jefferson – all of the Twin Cities; her brother David McCracken (Helen) of Cheyenne, Wyo.; a brother-in-law, James Harper of Corvallis, Ore.; two nephews, James Harper of Ft. Worth, Texas, Michael McCracken of Cheyenne, Wyo.; and a niece, Margaret Norrander of Bainbridge Island, Wash.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Hazel and Clarence McCracken; and her sister, Mariellen Harper.

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