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Janet Louise Mentink, 83, of Davis, California, passed away on November 28, 2020 at home surrounded by her family. Her life was rich in love of family & friends, in service to others, & bolstered by an emphasis on education. She lived by her motto, “She thought she could, so she did.”
Janet was born in Merced, CA to Frances & Archie Miller on July 25, 1937. Attending Calaveras High School, Janet was very involved - tennis, cheerleading, student government & band. That is where her eagerness to see what life had to offer began, including all aspects of learning, art, music & athleticism.
In 1958, Janet married Victor W. Mentink, Jr. in Davis, CA. They enjoyed 59 years of marriage before Vic’s death & proudly raised their three children – Mark, Doug & Lisa.
Education & continual learning were important to Janet, who said, “I’ve had a wonderful & exciting career!” A consistent highlight of her work life was being a pioneer when nursing was expanding & new healthcare roles were created. Her first nursing job was at Woodland Memorial Hospital where she worked for 12 years, mostly in the Emergency Room. She said, “I had to be really sharp - there were no paramedics then.” She worked for two Ob-Gyn doctors; then in Public Health in Yolo County, but it wasn’t enough ‘action’ for her. She moved on to a cutting-edge program - Nurse Practitioner School.
Janet started the NP program at UC Davis because there were more clinical sites available - especially in rural & underserved areas. There was a constant fear that the program would be closed down because of animosity from Schools of Medicine. “It was risky, there were no laws,” Janet recalled. Describing going to work as a student with a ‘true family practice doctor’ in Downtown Sacramento: “The doctor was very religious, never saying a bad word about anyone.” When Janet reported for work on the first day, he had his head on his desk. The Medical Licensing Board created a Cease-&-Desist order on the use of NPs and PAs. “I don’t want you to put yourself at risk!” he said. “To hell with them!” they both said simultaneously. They continued. Nothing happened. Their important work went on!
At first, there was flexibility as graduates of the UC Davis program could practice as either an NP or a PA – “they were sort of making it up as they went along!” Janet said. The plan had been for it to be a master’s degree, but there were no master’s candidates. The NP faculty had diverse responsibilities - leading satellites & a lot of outreach. After graduating, Janet immediately took over the N. California (Redding) satellite training site & visited & evaluated students in clinics throughout the region. Her teaching centered on behavioral medicine, depression, anxiety & severe mental illness.
Based on her behavioral medicine interest, Janet decided to enter a doctoral program at the Fielding Institute, while still working full time as a faculty member at UC Davis. Her goal was to earn a doctorate that was focused outside of Nursing, which would also give her extra capabilities. Janet was proud of the Ph.D. she earned in Psychology in 1994 & put it to good use, though she said, “it took so long.” In the midst, her beloved son Mark died, then her in-laws, & then her mother. Yet she forged on, as always.
In 1989 after the sudden death of her good friend, Correne Treguboff, who had effectively led the NP/PA Program at UC Davis, Janet was named the new Program Director. She rose to the challenges of this unexpected yet fulfilling opportunity. Once again, Janet was part of an expanding pioneering team! The West Coast PA programs stuck together & the faculty members became each other’s support group.
Because of her husband Vic’s job as Chief of Police for the City of Davis, Janet hadn’t traveled much. In her new role, she traveled to places she wouldn’t have gone otherwise. For several summers, Janet was a group leader for a retreat for PA educational leaders at Surgarloaf Resort in Maine. In addition to more formal learning, the group hiked part of the Appalachian Trail as a ‘bonding experience.’ Per Janet: “I met some great people & some real characters. I didn’t have to be the leader, but I certainly did a lot of good.”
Though she was a busy lady, Janet was never too busy to be a devoted, loving mother & grandmother – sewing clothes & costumes; serving as a Cub Scout leader; taking her children camping & even cooking berry pies (if the kids picked enough & didn’t eat on the way back to camp). She signed them up for sports & music lessons; exposed them to the arts; and traveled with them. In every instance, Janet provided a rich & encouraging upbringing to her kids & grandkids.
Janet took pleasure in her many hobbies, with a focus on painting, sculpting, building bird houses, & countless projects. She traveled to England, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada & Mexico; & loved visiting Kauai with her sisters-in-law & friends. Despite ventures abroad, Janet adored living in & being a part of the Davis community – she & Vic had season tickets to Cal Aggie football & basketball, sharing their love of sports with their grandchildren.
Janet was rich with friends & loving relationships from all facets of her well-lived life. “She thought she could, so she did.” And she most certainly did. Janet did it all!
Janet was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Victor & her son, Mark. She is survived by her children Douglas Mentink (Lea) & Lisa Grewohl (Doug): her sister Donna Miller: niece Justine Lane & nephews Cody & Tim Lane; & grandchildren Brandy Grewohl, Michael Moore, Michael Grewohl, Danielle Mentink & Emily Mentink.
Janet survived 3 years with pancreatic cancer & was lovingly cared for by family, friends & WeCare4Yolo caregivers Ally, Eva & Victoria.
Janet continued supporting nursing in her retirement through her involvement with Sacramento City College Nurses Alumni Association. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to “Los Rios Colleges Foundation.” Donors should include a note directing their gift to the Ethel Muhs Nursing Scholarship, in memory of Janet Mentink.
Check may be mailed to:
Sacramento City College Philanthropy, 3835 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95822
A memorial service will be held at a later date when it is safe to gather.
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