Janis Laye Bell, formerly of Raleigh and Snead’s Ferry, N.C, passed away peacefully in her home in Santa Cruz, California on March 26, 2021. Jan courageously battled metastatic cancer and had recently celebrated her 80th birthday.
She is preceded in death by her parents, L.B. and Laura Laye, her second husband, Jerry Tate, her son, Warren Bruce Bell, Jr., and her first husband, love of her life and father of their two children, Warren Bruce Bell, Sr.
Jan is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Chris Petrak, her sister and brother-in-law, Gwen and Ralph Freeman and her brother and sister-in-law, Skip and Judy Laye. She is also survived by countless extended family & friends including the Curry Family, the Tate Family and the Orr Family.
Born in Gastonia, N.C. in 1941, Jan was the eldest child to the Reverend L.B. Laye and Laura Laye. She enjoyed her childhood years as a big sister to Gwen and Skip and the Layes were welcomed into many church families with L.B. as their minister. The family eventually settled in Cliffside where Jan graduated from high school.
Thereafter, Jan attended Brevard College where she received her Associates Degree in 1962. Serendipitously, Brevard offered more than just an education; it also provided Jan with the opportunity to meet a handsome man from Maine named Warren Bell. Jan and Warren eventually married in Weaverville, N.C. and those nuptials were officiated by L.B. Laye.
Jan was a dedicated wife to ‘W.B.’ and they traveled extensively while Warren was stationed in the Air Force. Butch was born in 1963 while the couple was stationed in El Paso, TX and, after Warren’s career in the military concluded, they returned to North Carolina where Julie was born in 1971. Jan was dedicated to the happiness of her children; she was the best friend, the teacher and the guiding force for Butch and Julie.
Jan enjoyed a prolific 30-year career as a business and office manager for multiple orthodontic practices including Dr. William Brunk, Dr. Todd Engstrom, Dr. Bruce King and Dr. Richard Villa. During her tenure, she was affectionately known as “Power Shoes.”
Jan was known to Jenna Fain and Sydney Curry as “Nanna,” and she enjoyed attending many of their milestone events, including graduations and, most recently, attending Jenna’s wedding in September 2020. Jan was fondly thought of as a mother figure to Jenna and Sydney’s parents, MaryAnn and Dave Curry.
Jan’s greatest passions were gardening, bird watching, volunteering at the American Legion and spending time with her loving and devoted friends. Her faithful chihuahua, Sarabelle, provided laughter and comfort to her over the last years of her life.
After her diagnosis, Jan moved from Snead’s Ferry to Santa Cruz, California to spend her final days with Julie, Chris, Sarabelle and her Granddog, Ronin. She enjoyed the warm sunshine, Chris’s delicious cooking and the fellowship of her family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the ASPCA or to Hospice of Santa Cruz County to honor her life.