Janette ‘Jan’ Ferris, 87, J&R Ferris Antiques Co-Owner

BOONEVILLE, N.Y. — Janette “Jan” Ruth Gillette Ferris died on September 25. She was born in Lorraine, N.Y., on June 11, 1926 to Doris and Luther Gillette. 

Jan graduated from Adams (N.Y.) High School and the Watertown School of Business. She was employed by W.T. Burns (a shipping enterprise) and the US Postal Service before marrying Richard “Dick” Ferris and becoming a full-time purveyor of antiques, as well as a housewife. She managed the “little things” that make operating any antiques business successful –– from client service to maintaining booth props to preparing show cards.

Piano playing was one of Jan’s great joys, as was quiltmaking, gardening and observing nature, especially birdwatching. She and Dick were known to collect blown glass witch balls and hand forged choppers, sell off the collection and then build it back up again. Jan was also a member of the Eastern Star and the Watertown (N.Y.) Sports Club, where she was an excellent markswoman.

Shortly after marrying Dick in 1973, the couple moved to Madison, N.Y., which at the time was abuzz with antiques shops. Their venture into shop life was short-lived, instead choosing to follow the nomadic life of the antiques-show-circuit dealer. One of their first long-distance shows was in Denver, Colo., where they “took advantage of the chance to see the mountains,” as her husband recalls. Eventually the circuit expanded to include shows in most of the states from the East Coast to the Rockies. And during the winter months Jan and Dick would escape the snowy north country to harbor in Florida –– their base for a subset of Southern Civil War and antiques shows. 

Surviving Jan are her husband, Richard, three daughters (born of her first marriage) –– Marilyn Fink of Ozark, Mo., Donna, and her husband Joe, Smith of Sherrill, N.Y., and Billie St Joseph, of Brownville, N.Y.; four stepchildren, Sheri, and her husband Ed, Snyder of Rome, N.Y., Ken and Scott of Boonville and Christopher, and his wife Deanna, of Oklahoma City, Okla.; one other son-in-law, Steve St Joseph; seven grandchildren and their partners and children. Jan was predeceased by three brothers –– Edward, Richard and Jack –– daughter Doris and stepdaughter Karen.

Jan’s family encourages those who desire to make a donation to animal welfare or environmental organizations in her memory.


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