Janet Steinke's Story

Janet's Raised in a Traditional Household

Janet Steinke grew up in a family that had clearly defined gender roles. Girls were supposed to clean, cook and stay out of trouble. When Janet became a stay-at-home mom, she continued taking care of the household responsibilities. But once her two daughters started school, Janet entered the workforce. It turned out that Janet was a quick study. She rose through the ranks at Hugo Bank in Colorado and became the company’s first female loan officer. Eventually, she worked her way up to vice president. “I was well liked, dealt well with customers and made good advancement for a female in a small farming and ranching community,” Janet says. Janet wasn’t overly outgoing in social situations, but she was always approachable, and her social calendar was quite busy. Once a week, Janet and her husband, Ken, headed to the bowling alley for their league games. Each Sunday, the family attended a Lutheran church and then went to the Steinke’s house for lunch and card games. Janet and Ken played bridge once a week with friends, and pinochle was another popular activity. While Janet no longer recalls all the rules of bridge or pinochle, she is still sharp at 10-point pitch, which she plays weekly with her daughter Kenda’s family. She also enjoys playing Uno, Yatzhee and Sorry with her grandchildren.

Marriage to Ken and Loss

It was a big transition for Janet to move in with Kenda’s family in Fort Collins, Colorado, after spending all of her life in Hugo, Colorado, a town of 600 residents. She was born there on Jan. 3, 1942, to Eulas (Bob) and Viola Bandy, the second oldest of four children and the only girl. While her parents were very strict and didn’t allow Janet to participate in many school activities, they did allow her to go to dances as a teenager, which Janet loved. Janet married the love of her life, Ken, on Feb. 28, 1960, not long after she graduated from high school. Ken had been in the military and was seven years older than Janet. Employed by the state of Colorado, Ken worked on roads and park systems. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, Janet left her job to take care of him. It was a life-changing sadness. Ken was “a real fighter,” Janet wrote in a Christmas letter. After a six-year struggle, he passed away from the disease in 2000, when Janet was 58.

Legacy as a True and Faithful Friend

Janet’s daughter, Kenda, says her mom was a true and faithful friend who was always kind and caring to others. “I remember her as always pretty happy, optimistic and not just a mom but also a close friend,” she says. In addition to Janet’s other daughter Cynthia, Janet’s other family members include six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.