Longtime Hastings resident Janet Gauchat Bierman, 92, died November 19, 2021.
If you would like to help celebrate her life, you might consider a toast with a nice, warm cup of tea. She was a farm girl, plain and simple. She will be buried at Lafayette Cemetery near Brock beside her parents and grandparents. That’s what she wanted. She’ll have a view!
In lieu of flowers, you might consider helping a student get closer to their educational goal. You choose! I’m sure they would appreciate it! If you would like to send a card/note, send it to her daughter Marta White at 5985 Port Stewart CT SE in Salem, OR 97306. She will make sure to share your sentiments with her siblings.
“I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.” ~ Carl Sagan
Janet was born May 4, 1929, and grew up on a self-sufficient farm near Brock, Nebraska. She was one of thirteen classmates who started and finished school together. After high school, she made her way to Emporia State College in Kansas and graduated with a two-year teaching degree. She tells the story of mailing her laundry home to her mother! Can you believe it? While teaching for two years in Junction City, KS., she met Army Lieutenant Oliver Bierman, who was stationed at Fort Riley. They married on August 4, 1951. After his second discharge from the service (he had also served in WWII), and as they followed his employment, she had three children in three different states. After all the kids had started school, they both decided to return to college to finish their four-year degrees and become teachers. They attended Peru State College in Peru, Nebraska. While waiting for Oliver to finish up, Janet and the kids spent one year in Hiawatha, KS where she taught third grade. After Oliver’s graduation, and before a planned move to Muncie, IN, they stopped in to see Oliver’s mother in Hastings, where Oliver’s family was from.
As life often does, it threw them a curveball. They ended up staying and living out their lives in Hastings. Janet taught for Hastings Public Schools for many years. She taught at Morton and Longfellow, but mostly spent her career at Alcott school. Twenty-five years in the same room! But, it was a corner room with lots of windows to let in the light. She had a view! She was most proud when one of her “Alcott Kids” went on to do something noteworthy. You could barely go out in town with mom that you didn’t suddenly hear the words, “Well hello Mrs. Bierman! Do you remember me? You taught me at Alcott.” She had lovely penmanship, and she taught a generation of students how to write in beautiful cursive. She made the loveliest ‘J’ you would ever want to see. She loved music and had a beautiful singing voice. Into her 90's, she knew all the lyrics to her favorite songs. She referred to music from her youth as “good ole cowboy music.” Staying true to her roots, she always planted a garden behind her house. The summer visits home for the kids, and later for the grandkids would always include a “garden tour.” She loved getting dirt under her nails. After retirement, she learned how to use a computer and began writing pages of memories of her childhood on the farm, her high school days during World War II, and of her many travels with her husband, kids, and grandkids. She was quite a prolific storyteller. She chronicled her life and times with journals and many, many stories and poems. They are truly a treasure. She often urged others to write down their stories so as to not be forgotten. She also stayed physically fit. She walked and attended exercise classes well into her 90’s; she was proud of that. After living most of her life at 833 North Burlington, she moved to Circle C at Good Samaritan Village where she very much enjoyed and was supported by her neighbors.
Janet was preceded in death by her parents Leonard Sr. & Elreta Gauchat, husband Oliver in 2014, and infant sister.
She is survived by her sister, Colleen; and two brothers, Leonard Jr. (Fern) and Danny (Ardis). She also leaves her three children and their spouses, Michael Bierman (Nancy) of Dallas, TX, Monica Acton (Jim) of Lebanon, OR and Marta White (Robert) of Salem, OR.; three grandchildren, Molly, Jessica, and Daniel; and two great-grandchildren, Penelope and Damon. She will be missed by many.
Her family would like to thank the staff at Edgewood, The Kensington, and Mary Lanning Hospice, especially Anita, her case manager, for all their help in Janet’s final weeks and months. Also, a loving thank you to Julie Brentzel, who was both a caregiver and a dear friend to mom.
To send sympathy gifts to the family or plant a tree in memory of Janet Bierman, please visit our tribute store.