CLAYPOOL — For someone who “just loves to be busy,” Janet Warren was content Thursday, April 9, to stay quarantined at her Claypool home and watch the parade thrown in her honor.
Her family members and friends assembled a festive vehicular caravan to celebrate her 88th birthday and slowly rolled past her house, balloons dancing in the breeze, colorful “Happy Birthday” signs announcing their well wishes and birthday gifts tossed onto her front lawn.
At noon, her daughter Jill, wife of Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, brought her four different dishes of Chinese food, including her favorites, “egg drop soup and fried rice with veggies.”
They were only giving back the love she has given to the community her whole life. Warren was born in Silver Lake in 1932 and moved to Claypool when she was 9 years old.
“I thought I was going to the end of the world,” she recalled, “and I have lived here ever since.”
She graduated from Claypool High School in 1950, exactly 40 years after her mother did. That year she married Layne, also a Claypool High School graduate, who had just returned from military service. He passed away about three years ago at the age of 92. “He built the house I am living in now,” said Warren.
When their three children entered school, Warren went to work at the local post office. After a 25-year stint, she retired in 1992.
She has since been involved in volunteer work in a number of capacities. Her latest project is sewing masks and gowns during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A very good friend of mine works for the corporate office of Miller’s Merry Manor and is in charge of ordering and keeping all their nursing homes in Indiana supplied,” she said. “She was concerned about the shortage.”
Warren has sewn about 40 masks so far. “The first one took a couple hours by the time I figured out what I was doing. Now they take me about 20 minutes per mask.”
Drawing upon her 13 years of sewing projects in 4-H, she has also sewn half a dozen medical gowns, each taking her about an hour to complete. Over the decades, Warren has given her time and compassion in other ways.
Once a month she helps staff a canteen for a bloodmobile, serving meals to the staff and volunteers and providing sandwiches, chips and cookies to donors in the Center Lake pavilion in Warsaw.
She also helps at the Silver Lake Food Pantry one day each month and works the fish fries for the Claypool Lions Club.
She is involved with preparing four fundraising meals a year for her church, Claypool United Methodist. She makes all the noodles and bakes angel food cakes for the church’s two beef and noodle dinners, the next to be held Friday, Sept. 4.
She also helps with the church’s annual steak dinner and a turkey “harvest dinner” in November.
“I guess I like to serve and be productive,” she said.
The present COVID-19 shutdown reminds her of her younger days. “When I was a teenager all we knew was wartime and rationing, so what we are going through is really nothing new. We learned how to cook and save money, because there were no handouts then. Everybody was pretty much in the same boat.”
She does, however, “feel sorry for the young kids not getting to go to school graduation or sporting events.”
Warren keeps a rosy outlook. “I love music and have always liked musicals and good, uplifting things. I love to get up with a good cup of coffee and see the sun rise. I love this area and people and I love the Lord. He is always there.”
With three grown children, five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, the latest of which arrived two weeks ago, Warren is satisfied with occasional visits by family members. “I don’t know what I would do if they all came at once,” she said.