March 8, 1946 - December 28, 2020
Born on March 8, 1946 in Weiden, Germany, Jan carried the values of justice, kindness, and gratitude with him when he immigrated to the US at 19 for an education and to pursue his American Dream. As a new immigrant, he bagged groceries, traveled selling magazines, and worked the night shift at the New York City YMCA. When Jan and his future wife Pamela Brys were introduced by a mutual friend, Pam journaled that she had “met the most wonderful man.” After he graduated from City University of New York and Boston University Law School, Jan and Pam drove across the country with friends adventuring, landing in Washington in 1976. Together, they had two daughters and Jan established his law firm in Tacoma.
Because Jan’s family had been persecuted in the Holocaust due to their Jehovah’s Witness faith and because he had fled as a child from East Germany to democratic West Germany, Jan held skepticism towards ideologies and was a fiercely independent thinker. When he went through the Rite of Chritistian Initiation at the age of 62, he brought constant questions and inquiries, culminating in his Baptism in the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil.
Jan’s greatest joys came from playing with dogs and his grandchildren, sharing stories, and learning news and ideas from around the world. In his neighborhood, he knew every dog’s name (not necessarily their humans’) and was known to pull over the car to hand out treats. He was excited to add men to his family when Andrea and Sabrina married Zack and Chevy, but the tenderness in him from being in a home with only women for decades could not be hidden. Each time he met a new grandchild, he held them gently to his cheek and often began to sing old German songs. He was proud of representing his clients in their pursuits for justice, as well as his charity work with the Knights of Columbus. He was as fierce as he was gentle, as passionate as he was grounded in his values.
He is preceded in death by his courageous grandparents, Ernst and Betty, who raised him, his mother and step-father, his nephew, John Welch, and several beloved family pets.
He is remembered with love by his wife of fifty years Pamela Brys, sister Connie Noble, daughters Andrea Anderson (husband Zack) and Sabrina (husband Chevy Midas), in-laws Sandra and Bill Welch, grandchildren Leo, Charlotte, Vincent, and Hendrix, and many caring neighbors and friends.
Friends are invited to join a Virtual Celebration of Jan’s Life on Wed., Jan. 27th 5:30pm PST. Please email email@example.com for Zoom information. A small funeral Mass will be held on Thurs., Jan. 28th at St. Theresa’s parish; please contact the family if you’d like to attend.
Here Jan will have the last word: “I am learning that God is love. I really believe that. God is love.”
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