Janice Marie Thayer

Grand Island

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Updated: Mon, 05 May 2014 04:53:29 CST

Jan Thayer

Janice Marie Thayer, of Grand Island, died at her home on May 3, 2014, after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was age 76. 
Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Peace Lutheran Church in Grand Island. Reverends Terry Brandenburg and Michael Reiners will officiate. Private family burial will be in the Grand Island City Cemetery.
Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at All Faiths Funeral Home in Grand Island.
Jan was born to Alfred and Evelyn Larson and raised on a farm near Wolbach, Nebraska, which was homesteaded by her Swedish grandparents in 1890. She graduated from Wolbach High School at age 16, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at age 20. 

Jan married Ernie Thayer in 1957, and they raised their family in Grand Island. She worked as a clinical dietician at St. Francis Hospital, had a ten-year radio show on KRGI entitled, “Food for Thought,” founded her own dietetic consulting firm, and had a television show on Channels 10/11 entitled, “Take Five.” 

In 1979, Jan became co-owner of Wedgewood Nursing Home and devoted her career to the support and health care of the elderly. In 1988, she developed and was Executive Director of Riverside Lodge Retirement Community in Grand Island. In 1990, she founded and was CEO of Excel Development Group, which developed, managed, and owned retirement facilities in three states with more than 400 employees.

She also served on multiple corporate and community boards, including the American Health Care Association, the National Center for Assisted Living, the Foundation for the Future of Aging, Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, US West – Nebraska, the Nebraska Health Care Association, College Park, and the Weil Institute of Critical Care in Rancho Mirage, California. She was Vice-Chair of the Nebraska Republican Party and an elected delegate to the National Republican Convention in 1988. She was a life-long active member of her church. 

Her career has been recognized with awards ranging from induction into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 2005, to the American Health Care Association’s “Chairman’s Award” in 2011, which is its highest national honor. She was named Grand Island Independent “Woman of the Year” in 1988; University of Nebraska “Businesswoman of the Year” in 1990, and “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 1992. Riverside Lodge received the American Health Care Association’s “National Quality Award” in 2011.

In 2013, Jan and Ernie were inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame upon receiving the Clarence Swanson Award. The ribbon cutting of the “Thayer Family Patient Waiting Area” at the Buffett Cancer Center at UNMC will occur in 2016. Jan was able to cut the ribbon in August, 2013, for the Thayer Family Brain Research Lab, which is dedicated to the research of concussions and is located in the east stadium of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Jan is survived by her husband, Ernie, and three sons, David Thayer of Dallas, Texas; Dan and Lisa Thayer of Grand Island; and DJ and Janet Thayer of Omaha; a sister, Sharon Rosander of Wolbach, Nebraska; and grandchildren Emily and Carolyn Thayer of Grand Island; and Emma and Will Thayer of Omaha, together with many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Evelyn Larson.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Central Nebraska Humane Society or Peace Lutheran Church of Grand Island.