My Dad spent many hours composing, editing, thinking about and polishing the obituary for my Mom. It is nicely done. He keeps on thinking of more to add! This obituary will go out this week in local papers. Great job Dad in sharing who mom was and what she'd want us to know.

Janice Irene (Darrow) Geist

Born - January 6, 1952, Philadelphia, PA In The Presence of Her Savior – September 29, 2007, Tigard, OR

1 Corinthians 15:10a – “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

Janice (Jan) was truly as her name implies God’s Gracious Gift. Janice Irene Darrow was born on Epiphany in 1952 to parents Bob and Doris Darrow. Her birth date falls on the traditional celebration of the wise men bringing gifts to the infant Jesus. How appropriate for one whose life came to be characterized by bringing gifts of love and service to her Savior.

While still an infant, Jan and the Darrow family moved to the Southern California beach community of Playa del Rey. There, the family added a daughter, Joanne, and a son, David. It was during those early childhood years that Jan made the most important decision of her life. At age four, she put her faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jan herself would have the experience of being able to see her own children make the same decision as young children.

Bob, Jan’s father – an engineer/high tech salesman – moved his growing family to Mountain View in Northern California to take a new position. In Mountain View the youngest member of the Darrow family, John, was born. While in Mountain View, Jan attended elementary school, and the family joined a growing church led by Pastor Ray Stedman at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto. Everywhere the Darrow family went they made lifelong friends in their open and inviting home. Many visited the Darrow home to experience friendship, hospitality, and wise counsel.

Later, Bob’s work took the family to Costa Mesa in Southern California. There, Jan attended Teewinkle Jr. High School and completed two years at Estancia High School. Through the witness and influence of Jan and her family, several of Jan’s friends from that era also came to share her faith.

Once again the family moved, this time, to occupy Bob’s childhood home on the sandy bluffs of Playa del Rey, with its commanding vistas of the Southern California coastline and its beautiful sunsets. Almost daily as the sun dipped in the western sky, Jan’s mom could be heard throughout the house exclaiming “Look at the sunset!” Jan’s love of the beauty of God’s creation was nurtured in a home where it was never allowed to become mundane. Of course, living at the beach also included living with thick, frequent and hair-frizzing fog. During her illness Jan came to describe fog as “God’s favorite weather report.” She learned that it is in the fog of life that we truly learn to trust God to guide us.

The house on the bluff was the center for Good News Clubs, Young Life events, Bible studies, family pranks, water fights, and hospitality that included bringing home college friends after Jan’s graduation from Westchester High School in 1970.

In 1970, on the third day of school at Biola College (now Biola University), Jan met her future husband of 32 years – Dan Geist of Portland, OR. Although they met in September, it wasn’t until May 1971 that they began to date.

Dan soon became one of the many friends who experienced the Darrow family hospitality at their beachside home. As he and Jan grew in their relationship, Dan became a regular in the Darrow home. Phone calls, Jan’s occasional trips to campus (she had taken a year off from attending school), and Dan’s weekend stays with the Darrow family provided the time to grow their relationship. It was on March 4, 1972 that Dan first told Jan “I love you” – a day they would celebrate the rest of Jan’s life. The code, “143” (1 = “I”, 4 = “Love” and 3 = “You”), became their way of signaling by voice or hand sign their love for each other.

Jan returned to school for one more year. Then, on November 28, 1974, she and Dan became engaged, and their marriage followed seven months later on June 28. The newlyweds moved immediately to Portland, OR, where Dan began his teaching career. Prior to fulfilling her lifelong ambition of being a mom, Jan worked at 3M Business Equipment Bureau in Southeast Portland teaching customers how best to communicate visual presentations using overhead projectors. Her personality, artistic creativity, and communication skills allowed her to effectively instruct teachers, secretaries, and CEOs in her classes.

In 1977, Jan and Dan moved to their current home in Tigard, OR, which – through Jan’s designs and the building/remodeling skills learned by Dan and the Geist children – became a comfortable gathering place for the kind of openness and hospitality that Jan had experienced in her childhood. Aaron Daniel came into the family in 1979 followed by Annaliese (Annie) Aimee in 1982 and Andrew John Allen (AJ) in 1985. As a young mom, Jan took time to have fun with, enjoy, and teach her precious charges. She always kept an ear open to wise advice that would nurture her marriage and her children. The family, “Team Geist,” as she would say, was a safe place for the whole family where there was fun and camaraderie without meanness and sarcasm. The growing climate nurtured by Jan and Dan, added to by spiritual truth, other important like-minded adults, and most importantly God’s Grace resulted in three wonderful, meaningfully productive adult children and are joined by Aaron’s delightful wife Alison (Kelley) and Annie’s loving husband Matt Beghtel.

Even as a busy mom Jan made time to give to the life of her church and other believers at Grace Point Community Church (formerly Tigard First Baptist). Caring for newborns, teaching toddlers, working with high school students, leading AWANA clubs, set- painting and costuming for children’s productions, face painting for special children’s events, helping on work crews during church expansion projects, singing on worship teams, leading women’s Bible studies in her home, cooking for youth retreats, and editing the church’s newsletter all captured her energies at some point from the moment she began attending in 1980. Jan’s penchant for always having a camera at her side to record all phases of a project or event led to her being called “The Mamarazzi.” Many people from the church benefited and stayed close after having been touched by Jan.

Where her kids were involved, Jan threw herself into their activities, particularly in their schools. Editing school newsletters, volunteering in classrooms, building and painting sets for high school productions, as well as sewing costumes for the same all left her impression on the lives of the young people in her children’s lives. Her firm, yet winsome ways captured the friendship and respect of her children’s friends as well as that of the many children who experienced childcare in her home.

In the midst of her busy life, there was always an art or craft project being produced by Jan. Most of her work has been sold or given away to grace the homes of others. Hand-painted glass Christmas ornaments, miniature acrylic paintings of wild flowers, water- color landscapes and whimsical flowers, calligraphy, quilts, painted clothing, and photo note cards are just some of her works. (See her paintings online at (Contribute to the showing of her work online at The beauty of God’s creation – so much, always enamored her so that no matter what medium she used to capture that beauty, it was always an expression of thanks and appreciation to Him for His Creation.

Jan discovered cancer in 1998, but hid it and didn’t “turn herself in” until 2000 (read her story in her own words at and ). During the period from 2000 to 2007, Jan’s journey with cancer is a story filled with God’s grace. Yes, there was pain, loss, and regret. But it was also a time of forgiveness, renewed faith, trust, energy, and an avenue for ministry. Jan was often the comforter and encourager to her “chemo buddies.” She would ask, “What flavor of cancer do you have?” and sit back and listen and then share her own fallen story overcome by God’s ability to bring peace, grow faith, and allow a U-turn in her life. She did this with a gracious spirit sprinkled with a heavy dose of humor. During hospital stays her nurses would teasingly fight over who would get to take care of Jan. Even during this period it was not uncommon for her to listen to the needs of others and then pray for those in addition to her own. Her regular prayer was to say “Lord, make me more like you and less like me.” That prayer was ultimately answered when she stepped into the presence of Jesus Christ on Saturday, September 29, 2007. Jan’s father, Bob Darrow, preceded her by just over two years.

Jan’s children and husband all played a vital role in caring for her during the last few months of her life and especially during her hospice care. Jan couldn’t have been prouder of or more thankful for her family. Friends from her childhood in California as well as her vast network of Oregon friends expressed their care for Jan and her Geist and Darrow families during her cancer battle from 2000 to the present.

Surviving Jan on this earth are husband Dan of Tigard, OR; son Aaron and wife Alison of Portland, OR; daughter Annaliese Beghtel and husband Matt of Portland, OR; son Andrew of Tigard, OR; mother Doris Darrow of Sunnyvale, CA; sister Joanne Huddleson of Colorado Springs, CO; brother David Darrow of Carlsbad, CA; and brother John Darrow of Sunnyvale, CA.

We’ll miss you till we see you,

Dan and the kids

In lieu of flowers and other gifts, consider making a donation to the Grace Point Community Church Expansion Fund (, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Fund (, or Hospice of Washington County (

A memorial will be held: Saturday October 13, 2007 at 10:00 A.M. Tigard Christian Church 13405 S.W. Hall Blvd. Tigard, OR

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Truly a life well lived. The Kingdom is blessed to have her!