Janice Olmstead, Troy, New York native and long-time Alexandria, Virginia resident, died of cancer on June 19, 2021. After a two-year battle with cancer that Janice always focused on winning, complications from cancer overcame her. She died peacefully in her sleep.
Janice, the daughter of Leo and Alma Clement (both deceased) of Poestenkill, New York, is survived by her husband Gregory Olmstead, and her two children, Kathryn and Stephen. At the time of her death Janice and her family were living in Front Royal, Virginia near the Shenandoah National Forest and Shenandoah River, where she walked, hiked, kayaked, or adventured daily.
Janice was an unstoppable force, filled with energy and determined to make the world around her a better place. Her family and friends remember her as a bad ass, strong, independent woman who never stopped moving and never let being ill slow her down!
Her life was filled with her family, the beach, sports, a career as a teacher, a second career as a health fitness professional, and also working with a non-profit organization to integrate movement into the school day to enhance academic performance and empower students to achieve long-term success.
Janice met her husband, Gregory, while she was in the New York Army National Guard and he was a Marine Corps officer. As a Marine spouse, Janice left New York to live in North Carolina, California, and Virginia. When Gregory’s career transitioned to the Department of State’s Foreign Service, Janice lived internationally in Germany, Poland, and the Republic of Georgia and traveled extensively throughout eastern and western Europe. During her time overseas she was a certified health fitness professional and trained US Army MWR fitness instructors at US Army bases in Germany. She returned from Poland with her daughter Kathryn in hand, and son Stephen on the way. Later, while living in the Republic of Georgia, Janice home-schooled her children, before returning to Virginia to complete her career as a teacher in Alexandria City Public Schools.
Janice graduated from Catholic Central High School in Troy, NY. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education from the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh. She later received a Masters Degree in Special Education from Chapman College in California, and a second Master’s Degree in Health Fitness Management from American University in Washington, DC. She was a Nationally Board-Certified teacher and taught in New York, North Carolina, California, and Virginia before retiring as an elementary school educator in Alexandria City Public Schools. Following her teaching career, she continued to work with teaching staff in Alexandria City Public Schools through the Running Brooke non-profit organization, to integrate creative and sustainable movement practices and programs into the school day to enhance academic performance and empower students to achieve long-term success.
An avid bicyclist, runner, hiker and kayaker, in 1989 Janice won the women’s class of a 24-hour endurance bicycle race near Johnstown New York qualifying for the bicycle Race Across America. Although she was unable to compete in the Race Across America due to her move to Germany that year, she remained active as a bicycling enthusiast and competitive runner. Janice completed several Marine Corps Marathons, including in October 2019 just before being diagnosed with extensive stage IV cancer, and she had entered to run MCM again this October. She and Gregory spent weekends hiking in Shenandoah National Forest or on extended kayak runs on the Shenandoah River, near where she lived.
Janice was also the first woman applicant to be accepted to the Empire State Military Academy Officer Candidate School (OCS) Program for the New York Army National Guard. Receiving her commission as a Second Lieutenant, Signal Corps, HHC, 205th CS Gp, at Camp Smith, NY on August 20, 1976, she was part of the first “co-ed” Empire State Military Academy OCS class.
She began her service in the New York Army National Guard by enlisting on 26 Feb 1976 after graduating from Hudson Valley Community College and while a senior at SUNY Plattsburgh. After graduation from SUNY Plattsburgh, Lieutenant Clement continued to drill and serve in Troy, NY, while also teaching in the town of Chatham public schools.
Janice met Marine Lieutenant Gregory Olmstead in August 1978 while she was on active duty with the New York Army National Guard and attending the U.S. Marine Corps Instructional Management School at Quantico, VA. Passing by her future husband in the halls of the Bachelor’s Officer Quarters, she noticed him working on something - and in typical Janice form, Lieutenant Clement’s first words to Lieutenant Olmstead, were, “Would you like me to show you a better way to do that?” To which he replied simply, “No!” Later Janice graced Gregory with her name, and a 43-year romance began – with their relationship formed by their opening exchange.
On April 18, 1979, the New York state prison guards entered into a two-and-a-half-week strike, and Lieutenant Clement was activated with her Headquarters Company to provide emergency services to the New York state prisons. What many people don’t know though is that coincidentally Janice had driven to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on April 18th, to see her then fiancé Gregory. The couple were married on April 20, 1979 – and Janice was immediately activated by the National Guard, driving back to Troy, New York the next day for a month on active duty. Although their honeymoon had to wait to begin, it lasted the rest of their lives. And yes, when the couple married a second time at a family event in New York in July of 1979, Janice had already taken charge of Gregory’s life!
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, friends and family are asked to donate to improving the education and fitness of our youth, through the Running Brooke non-profit organization in Alexandria, Virginia that Jan was a part of (https://www.mightycause.com/story/H7v8jg).
A memorial gathering will take place at Chester Gap Winery, 4615 Remount Rd., Front Royal, Virginia 22630 on Saturday, August 21, 2021 from 1:00 – 6:00 PM. Food and refreshments will be served. All who knew and loved Jan are welcome! Please share this invitation with anyone who you know would like to celebrate Janice’ life! We ask that as much as possible, people RSVP to Gregory Olmstead at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 1, 2021 – but regardless of RSVP, please do come to this gathering to celebrate Jan, if you are able.