Janis Lee (Stodola) Kazimour: A Life Embracing Community, Compassion, and Commitment.
Born in Cedar Rapids, IA on September 11, 1935, at Mercy Hospital to Leo and Maxine (Kimbro) Stodola, Janis Lee (Stodola) Kazimour graced this world with her presence until September 5, 2023. She was united in marriage with Robert F. Kazimour on September 1, 1956, and they were blessed with two daughters, Dr. Kimberly Kazimour of Gainesville, FL, and Korlin Kazimour, MBA, MLA of Cedar Rapids, IA.
Janis was a dedicated and lifelong resident of Cedar Rapids, IA. Her formative years were marked by exceptional achievements, graduating from Roosevelt High School with straight A's, while also passionately participating as a cheerleader and an active member of the newspaper staff. She co-authored the column "Jokes by Two J’s" with her dear friend Joyce Marsh Lanier. Pursuing higher education, Janis attended the University of Iowa, where she became affiliated with the Kappa Alpha Theta social sorority and was a member of the esteemed Alpha Lambda Delta scholastic honorary society.
Upon returning to Cedar Rapids after residing in Minot, North Dakota for three years, where her husband Bob served in the Air Force, Janis embarked on a rich and extensive career as a devoted volunteer. Janis always espoused the view that volunteering is an act of pure desire, devoid of expectation for acknowledgment. She had a saying, "You volunteer because you want to. You don’t expect any recognition. You do it because you like to. Plus, you always have job insurance."
Janis's remarkable energy and enthusiasm radiated throughout her years of dedication to many local non-profit organizations, where her altruism laid the foundation for the betterment of Cedar Rapids and its future generations. She was ardently dedicated to numerous causes, particularly those related to children and education. As Vice President of the PTA at Monroe Elementary for three years, a Campfire leader for two years, and a board member of the Children's Theatre of Cedar Rapids for eight years, Janis was an unwavering advocate for all youth. Her embodiment of Play Time Poppy, “the happy little ear of corn” before performances was a testament to her vibrant spirit.
The Junior League reaped the benefits of Janis's dedication for fifteen years, as she zealously contributed to projects enhancing the lives of Cedar Rapids' youth. Notably, she played a role as the "voice" behind Killian's "talking Christmas tree," making Christmas magical for children while raising funds for youth initiatives. Janis was also a champion for the Young Parents Network for over seventeen years, and she was a big supporter of the Broadway Maybies Variety Show Fundraiser, now in its 32nd year.
Janis's dedication to the well-being of children with mental and behavioral health challenges was exemplified through her thirty-four years of service on the Board of Directors of Tanager Place. She fulfilled roles such as President and also contributed significantly to the Tanager Place Foundation as Secretary and Past President.
Janis's love for the arts and culture was an integral part of her life. She was a talented artist, showcasing her skills through intricate drawings gifted to friends and family. Her musical talents extended to playing the accordion, a skill she showcased in her early years performing with cousins. Her commitment was evident in her roles on the boards of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, where she served as President of the Symphony Guild and she served on the Orchestra Iowa Foundation Board of Directors. Her Czech heritage found expression in her active participation on the National Czech Slovak Museum and Library Board of Directors, serving as President, and contributing to the creation of the Brewnost fundraiser now in its 20th year.
Civic pride drove Janis to dedicate herself to the Civil Service Commission of Cedar Rapids, where her thirty years of service included oversight of the hiring and promotion of civil servants, spanning the police, fire, airport security, and building departments. She also held a leadership role in the National and International Association of Civil Service Commissioners for twenty years, including tenure as President.
Janis was an active supporter of the United Way of East Central Iowa, dedicating six years of service to the organization's mission. Her commitment to education and criminal justice reform was further evident through her appointments to the Sixth Judicial District Board of Directors and the Sixth Judicial District Northern Advisory Board, where she encouraged positive lifestyle changes in criminal offenders. Additionally, she served as Board Chair for Aging Services for six years, leading efforts to support the elderly in her community.
Janis was Committee Co-Chair for the city of Cedar Rapids’ Sesquicentennial celebration in 1999, coordinating celebratory events that brought the community together in a spirit of unity and pride. She was a trailblazer as the first female member of the Cedar Rapids Kernels Board of Directors for six years, during which she gave her time to the Kernels Foundation Board. Her personal connection to these boards ran deep, as her great uncle was a minor league pitcher for the Cedar Rapids Bunnies (now Cedar Rapids Kernels).
Janis began volunteering at Mercy Medical Center in 1969. Over the span of forty-eight years, she generously donated over 14,400 Auxiliary hours, not including the countless hours she devoted to committees and board assignments. She immersed herself in various roles, including volunteering in administration, surgery, the ER department, and at the 10th Street information desk, where she formed a cherished friendship with Sister Gladys Frein. Their teamwork was exemplified one winter day when they collaborated swiftly to help a young man who had been stabbed. Janis’s quick thinking and Sister Gladys's assistance helped to save his life.
Beyond her volunteer duties, Janis's commitment extended to the very heart of Mercy Medical Center. She dedicated herself to the Mercy Medical Center’s Board of Trustees for thirty-eight years. Her contributions extended to serving on five board committees: Fiscal Management, Marketing/PR, Allied Health Practitioners, Corporate Compliance, and Ethics. She also held a pivotal role on the MercyCare Management Board of Trustees as Secretary and participated actively on the Executive committee and played a critical role on the Mercy Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees for 17 years. Her dedication was further underscored by her role as a founding member of the Women’s Center Board.
In addition to her involvement within the Mercy Medical Center sphere, Janis served on the Area Ambulance Advisory Board for fifteen years and played a foundational role as an inaugural member of the Cedar Rapids Ambulance Council.
Over the years Janis received numerous awards and recognitions for her service, including Junior League Sustainer of the Year in 1989, Pillar of the Community award during Waypoint’s Tribute to Women of Achievement (2006), the Tree of Life award from the Jewish National Fund, the Honorary Paul Harris Fellow award from Rotary West, the Outstanding Philanthropist Award (2001) from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and the Peter Teahen Award (2007) from the Freedom Festival. Janis's exceptional dedication was underscored when she was recognized as Iowan of the Day by the Blue-Ribbon Foundation of the Iowa State Fair (2004).
Beyond the accolades, Janis was defined by her quiet acts of kindness and her willingness to support others. Her mentorship, financial assistance, and compassionate ear were a source of solace for countless individuals both locally and beyond.
Janis's zest for life was further evident in her celebration of holidays. She embraced each festivity with her unique touch, donning celebratory costumes and becoming particularly enamored with Christmas. She poured her heart into decorating, baking, and meticulously selecting gifts for her loved ones. Her legacy also includes her cherished Christmas poems, crafted for 62 years, reflecting her whimsy and wisdom.
Left to cherish her memory are her beloved husband Bob, her daughters Kim (Keith Biggs), and Kory, sisters-in-law, Helen Secrist of West Des Moines, IA, and Regina (Jeanne) Moeller Pisarik of Cedar Rapids, IA and a host of cherished nieces and nephews. She joins her parents Maxine and Leo Stodola, and siblings Sharon and Scott Stodola in eternal rest.
In honor of Janis, contributions may be made to the Mercy Medical Center Foundation (701 10th St. SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52403), Tanager Place (2309 C St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404) or a charity of your choice.
The family extends profound gratitude to the compassionate staff at Hallmar and Dr. Ann Soenen for their loving care of Janis.
A visitation will take place at Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories Stateroom on Sunday, September 10th from 2 to 5 pm, with a rosary being said at 5:00 pm. A funeral mass will be celebrated at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, Cedar Rapids, IA on Monday September 11th at 10 am, with a lunch at the church to follow. Afterward, a private entombment will take place at Cedar Memorial, providing a peaceful closure to this meaningful day. For those unable to attend, a recording of the mass will be available shortly after the service at cedarmemorial.com (under the video tab).
Janis Lee (Stodola) Kazimour's impact on her community and the lives she touched will forever resonate, a testament to a life dedicated to Service, Compassion, and Selflessness.