Kathleen ‘Kay’ Janecka
February 6, 2019
KATHLEEN ‘KAY’ JANECKA
Kathleen “Kay” Janecka passed away peacefully, in her recliner … with her cat on her lap … on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 24, 2019 at her home on Big Pine Key.
She was born Kathleen Bradley on April 8, 1939 in San Diego, California. Her mom played piano and sang blues until cancer took her, leaving young Kay an orphan, but giving her the gift of music.
She married Sonny Jones, a skydiver, and joined him in that sport, becoming a pilot and one of the first champion skydivers in Virginia. They had a son, Miles Jones, who passed in 2014. Sonny died in a parachute accident, and Kay eventually married fellow skydiver Stan Janecka. During her piloting years, Kay would drop the UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) guys over the water as they practiced. They are called the Seals today, and Kay was very proud to have been a small part of their training. Along the way, Miles was adopted by Stan, and Michelle and then James, were born.
During those years in Virginia, Kay gave violin lessons to school-aged children in her home as Stan served in the military. On one of their vacations, the family arrived in the Florida Keys. Stan fell in love and decided that he was moving to Big Pine Key when he retired. When he did retire after 30 years in the military, they moved here and the story goes that Kay called her daughter, Michelle, and said that she hated it here … she had no friends and was lonely. Her daughter suggested that she go to the Winn Dixie parking lot and tune her instrument and that was how her friendship with Bobby D’Antonio and Marvin Perry (and many other musicians) began. Soon, she was getting together with them for jam sessions and all were amazed that she played along by ear, never needing a rehearsal or the key of the music! Because of her gift, she was invited often to join in with the local bands. These were fun times for Kay but she also had a special gift for classical music, which she played for the last 25-plus years. Kay was the Concert Master of the Key West Chamber Orchestra. During this time, she was also the secretary for the Rifle Club and was a champion shooter. She had her concealed carry permit and always carried her gun with her at all times. Not many knew that she “packed heat,” as she would say.
Over the years, Kay did many things for our community. She and her friend, Marvin, who is well-known for his clarinet and tenor saxophone playing, gave lessons to children for free. She would supply the Susuki violins that were just their size, and found joy and purpose as she passed along her love of music and her “fiddle.”
Kay also passed on her love of music to her daughter, Michelle, a guitarist with a beautiful voice, and to her grandson, William, who is now a bass guitarist. She had a rich and full life and all who knew her loved her.
She is survived by her loving husband, Stan Janecka, her son, James Janecka, her daughter, Michelle Dravis and her grandson, William Dravis, Vincent Janecka, her nephew and many dear friends.
There will be a Celebration of Life at Coconuts, 30535 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, Florida on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. … there will be a potluck “late lunch” and an “Open Mic Pickin’ Party” with Michelle Dravis and many of her musician friends. Come join us as we celebrate the life of the beautiful person who was our “Kay.”