Janice Mary Knobel Wheeler, 95, passed away on January 10, 2021, at the Groton Community Care Center following several years of declining health and loss of vision. Janice was born on January 25, 1925, in Homer, New York, to J Henry Knobel and Dorothy Fairbanks Knobel. She was a lifelong resident of Homer and a long-time member of the Homer Congregational Church.
Janice graduated from Homer Academy High School as the salutatorian of the Class of 1942 and attended Powelson Business Institute in Syracuse. During that time she met the “new boy” across the street, Kenneth C Wheeler, who was the love of her life. Janice and Ken were married on February 10, 1945, and enjoyed 68 years together before Ken’s death in 2014.
Prior to her marriage Janice worked at Crouse-Hinds in Syracuse, and beginning in 1962, she worked as a secretary in the Homer High School Guidance Office for 21 years. After retirement she worked for a brief time in the Homer Village Clerk’s Office, and served on the Glenwood Cemetery Commission.
Throughout her life, Janice loved to sew and made many clothes for herself and her family, including her own wedding gown. Janice and Ken loved to travel, taking numerous road-trips every year throughout the United States, and in particular the western states and the Canadian Rockies. In later years they also enjoyed visits overseas to Hawaii, England and Switzerland. Long before it became popular, Janice enjoyed researching her “roots” and became the unofficial historian of the Knobel/Fairbanks families. Having enjoyed swimming in Skaneateles Lake as a girl, in retirement Janice spent many years attending senior swim exercise classes at the Cortland YWCA.
Besides her husband, Janice was pre-deceased by her brothers Robert T Knobel in 1986 and James H Knobel in 2009.
Janice is survived by her children, Susan (Ralph) Crandall of Locke, Marcia Wheeler of Camillus, Anita (Jeffrey) Jebbett of Homer, and Kevin (Sandra) Wheeler of Murfreesboro, TN. She leaves six grandchildren: Sarah (Steven) Morgan, Cortland; Caryn Lemmon, Moravia; Nathan (Stephanie Spohn) Jebbett, Burlington, VT; Zachary (Kelly) Jebbett, Ithaca; Katherine (Thomas) Turner, Eagleville, TN; and Christine (Matthew) Hall, Norfolk, VA, and six great-grandchildren – Bryanna Frank, Alex Morgan, Jack Lemmon, Jade and Aubrey Turner, and step-granddaughter Destiny Lemmon. Janice is also survived by her sisters-in-law Virginia Knobel, Homer, and Betty Knobel, Cortland, and by many nieces and nephews. She leaves life-long friends, Elizabeth MacNeill, Cortland, and Selma Schneider of Casper, WY, who introduced Janice to Ken all those years ago.
Due to COVID, there will be no services at this time. However, a spring burial is planned. The family would like to extend special thanks to her former caregiver, Kristen Wagner, and to all the wonderful staff at the Elizabeth Brewster House. Donations in her memory may be sent to National Glaucoma Research, BrightFocus Foundation, 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, MD 20871; the Cortland County Historical Society, 25 Homer Ave, Cortland; or the Cortland YWCA, 14 Clayton Ave, Cortland. To offer online condolences please visit www.wright-beard.com.