Janet Clairssa Finney, age 80, long time resident of Drakes Mills, Cambridge Township, Crawford County, PA passed away on Sunday, December 26, 2010 at Rolling Fields Nursing Home in Conneautville. She had been at the home for the past 14 months and had previously been at Juniper Village, Meadville for 1 1/2 years. Born in Meadville, PA on April 9, 1930, Janet was a daughter of the Late Russell Shearer and Opal Gray Shearer.
She graduated from Cambridge Springs High School in 1948 where she played on the girl’s basketball team. On October 7, 1950 she married Jack Nelson Finney and he preceded her in death on January 15, 1983. Together they operated a well known dairy farm which later became a beef cattle farm.
Janet was gifted in the art of ceramics. She was a ceramic instructor for over 25 years at her business known as the “Country Cellar” located in Drakes Mills. The business became well known with over 80 students enrolled weekly. Over the years she garnered many awards recognizing her excellence. She served on the Erie-Crawford Ceramic Guild. She was a contributing author of several articles for Popular Ceramics magazine and Ceramic World magazine and was a recipient of the “Peggy Award” and “Judge’s Award” given by them.
Additionally, Janet established “Grandpa’s Gift Barn” at her home selling unique gifts. In 1959, she developed another well known business – “Finney’s Pumpkinville”. Customers came from near and throughout the Tri State area seeking to buy her high quality goods, especially sweet corn, pumpkins, and flowers. Pumpkinville became very popular among school children and they were bused from miles around to visit there at Halloween time. Janet became well known as the witch of Pumpkinville and Mother Goose. Over 48 years her business thrived and during that time she received numerous awards and blue ribbons from various Erie and Crawford County fairs for her work.
Janet had several other interests. She was a member of Meadvile YMCA and YWCA in Meadville and was actively engaged as a swimming and diving instructor and as a Red Cross lifesaving instructor. She taught locally and as far away as Zelienople. Janet was instrumental along with other citizens in opening the Jericho bridge after it had been closed for 11 years.
Janet was presently a member of the Cambridge Springs United Methodist Church and had been previous a member of the Millers Station United Methodist Church where she was active as Chairperson of their official Board and as a Sunday School teacher. She was a member of the Rockdale Garden Club and a member of the Crawford County Convention and Tourism Association.
Over the years Janet received special awards of importance. She was a recipient of a Congressional Certificate of Recognition for Finney’s Pumpkinville in 2000 given by Gannon University and in 2001 the prestigious award for being one of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business.
Surviving members of Janet’s family include two daughters – Cheryl Kent and her husband, Bill of Cambridge Springs and Jill Robbins and her husband, Dennis of Hendersonville, NC; two grandchildren – Brandon Kent and his wife, Megan of LaGrange, NC and Emily Schlosser and her husband, Ben of McKean; and a brother – Gene Shearer and his wife, Jeannie of Cambridge Springs.
Friends may call at the Van Matre Family Funeral Home in Cambridge Springs on Wednesday from 2-4 and 7-9 and are invited to attend funeral services there on Thursday at 11:00 am. Reverend Rod Beardsley, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cambridge Springs will officiate. Interment will be in Venango Cemetery. Memorial gifts may be given to the Alzheimer’s Association , 1128 State Street, Erie, PA. 16501.