Our mother once painted the portrait of a woman she never met because the full life described in her obituary was so inspiring, and at mom’s insistence, we found the author of that obituary and gave her the painting. By whatever name you know our mother – Janet, Mema, Doxie – you know she admired, aspired to, and achieved a full life. Janet Dox Rigby always took the time to see the beauty and value in everyone and everything around her, and for 94 years, she pointed out God’s living brush strokes to be loved and admired to the rest of us.
Born in Nebraska in October 1926, she moved to Jacksonville for her school years and graduated from Landon High in 1944, where as a Landon Lionette she honed the dance moves she used whenever music played. She attended Agnes Scott College, and found her way to Chicago after the war to work as a secretary for the Young Republicans. She met the love of her life, a towering and decorated WWII pilot, and married Judson Rigby on the “hottest day on record.” They relocated outside New York City in Chester Heights and were active members of Trinity Episcopal Church, New Rochelle. They spent their honeymoon in East Hampton, NY, and as the family grew, loaded all four children and our cats in the station wagon to spend every summer “on the island” and created the fondest of family memories with cousins, aunts, and uncles at Albert’s Landing and the homestead we call “Camp” at Three Mile Harbor.
Mema, breaking tradition to go back to college in her mid-40s, graduated from Pace University, and when they moved to Atlantic Beach, FL in 1976 to be near Mom’s sister (Judith Dox Thompson) and parents (Douglas and Elizabeth Ross Dox), she began a career in physical therapy. Mom served on the Altar Guild at St. Paul’s by-the-Sea for over 40 years and volunteered for Meals on Wheels, Easter Seals, and more. She loved Jazzercise, book club, golf at Selva Marina, a good brandy after dinner, and her community. Painting was her passion, and her artwork brightens our homes, her friends’ homes, homes built for Habitat for Humanity, and the home of at least one stranger who wrote a beautiful obituary.
Family is Mom’s masterpiece. Her greatest joy was our huge family gatherings, where friends and friends-of-friends were all welcomed. She would bring out the silver, crystal, and infamous wooden plates; and while we still joke about “everything-must-be-hand-washed,” we embrace the legacy she gave us - our love for each other is the ultimate, God-given gift and is always meant to be celebrated.
Jan and Jud, married for 67 years, are together again. The four of us and our spouses, Doug (Celia) Rigby, Liz (Early) McCall, Donna (Billy) Barker, and Martha Wigton, along with her 10 grandchildren and spouses, and eight great-grandchildren celebrate the brilliant and lasting colors of her life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Community Hospice & Palliative Care, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257 or give online at support.communityhospice.com.