Janel Saunders Valued her Faith, Family and Hard Work


Janel Kay Saunders left this earth to be with Jesus on Sunday, March 25, 2012, at her home in rural Pine Island, Minn., after a nearly four-year battle with ovarian cancer.

Janel was born on Dec. 13, 1961, in Mobridge to Carroll and Janis Brockel of rural Selby.

Janel was a South Dakota farm girl who valued faith, family and hard work. She was a friendly, welcoming, and cheerful lady with a wonderful disarming smile – she had a comforting presence – yet Janel had an aggressive drive to serve God in any way she could.

Before graduating from Selby High School in 1980, she led the girls basketball team to two trips to the South Dakota State B Tournament and was the class valedictorian. She received the Governor’s Scholarship to attend University of South Dakota (USD) in Vermillion, where she was president of the Chi Omega sorority and active in Campus Crusade for Christ. Janel graduated from USD with a BS in Computer Science and Math in 1984 and was employed at IBM from 1984 to 1991 as a test administrator and manager.

Janel married John Saunders on June 4, 1988, in Rochester, Minn. They established their home in rural Pine Island, where they raised their three beloved children. She enjoyed every phase of motherhood, including home education. She was a loving mother who believed in boundaries and structure for her children. She was also an energetic volunteer at Christ Community Church, becoming a cherished mentor to countless women, and leader of many events and programs including MOPS, Women’s Bible Study, and the CCC Homeschool Co-op. Her basketball skills led her to refereeing and serving as assistant coach for the Rochester Home School Defenders girls’ varsity team.

She is survived by her husband, John of rural Pine Island; her children, Jeremiah and Jenna at NDSU in Fargo, and Jaclynn at home; her parents, Carroll and Janis Brockel of rural Selby; her siblings, Collin (Virginia) Brockel of Hurdsfield, N.D., Craig (Lori) Brockel of Mobridge, and Janita (Tim) Pavelka of rural Holdrege, Neb.

Preceding her in death was her brother Ross Brockel, 1957, and her grandparents, John and Alma Brockel and Martha and Otto Aman.

Janel’s family would like to thank the congregation of Christ Community Church, the families of the Rochester area home educators, and the Mayo Clinic staff for their care and support.

Memorial donations are suggested to go to Rochester Defenders Basketball (girls’ varsity uniform fund) or the Christ Community Missions Fund.

Janel served God with a cheerful heart and a big smile.

A celebration service will be held at Christ Community Church at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 30. Visitation will be at the church Thursday, March 29, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and one hour before the service.

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