Janet Beattie Filiault, 88, of Williamstown, died peacefully on December 11 at Albany Medical Center, after a long decline in health, slipping away from her family quietly in her sleep. Janet was the devoted wife of Edward A. Filiault, and they celebrated their 60th diamond wedding anniversary before his passing in 2018. Janet and Bud met working together at the Boston Store as teenagers, and she mourned every day without him. We fervently believe he welcomed her with open arms and couldn’t wait to have her by his side again.
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Born during the Great Depression in North Adams to Thomas and Mildred McDonald Beattie, Janet was a lifelong Massachusetts resident who strongly objected, as a devoted Red Sox fan, to moving recently to New York Yankee territory to be nearer to her daughters. She attended Drury High School, graduating from Cushing Academy and Bay Path Junior College, and worked in a bank until her marriage. Janet was a homemaker most of her life, raising her two daughters after she lost her oldest daughter at birth. She became certified as a nursing home activities director and worked at Sweet Brook Nursing Home, after she came to know many of the residents when her mother lived there. She was also a long-time volunteer at North Adams Regional Hospital, logging thousands of hours there until its closure, wheeling people around, filing lab work, and generally acting as a part-time unpaid employee. Janet made many of her closest friends through her volunteer work and loved her lunches with the ladies.
Janet loved being the wife of a school administrator, taking great pride in the impact her husband had on his community and supporting his activities. Janet and Bud were married in 1957 and started their married life living as proctors in a boys’ dorm at Vermont Academy with their first parakeet, Punky! She went to every sports banquet and concert, chaperoned most dances, and tolerated – mostly patiently – her husband’s frequent evening meeting obligations. Janet and Bud were fixtures on the Mt. Greylock sports fields even after his retirement, and they both loved watching the students they knew grow into adults with real lives around town. When Bud passed away, she established with her daughters a scholarship fund in has memory and had hoped to work this year with the school district to award an inaugural scholarship to an exceptional student of foreign languages in honor of Bud’s service as a French teacher.
Janet had amazing domestic skills she learned from her maiden aunts, with whom she was very close as a child. She baked incessantly for school functions for her daughters and when her husband, the school principal, attended a potluck. She loved to iron (her daughters still don’t understand why!). She and her husband chose not to install a dishwasher, because they enjoyed the time it gave them to catch up at the end of the day with her washing and him drying, except on holidays when he took on the full responsibility after she cooked gigantic dinners. Her default cooking style was well-done, and her family loved most of the comfort food she cooked, except for that one weird experiment with liver. She was a master knitter, gifted hundreds of pairs of delicate baby booties to family and friends, and left her family with beautiful knit heirlooms they will pass through the generations. Her daughters and grandchildren also have a beautiful collection of ceramic Christmas trees, vases, and other decorative items, painstakingly painted and fired over the years. She was an avid gardener and could be found, even in her later years, weeding and cultivating around the yard, often with plants she received as gifts from the gardens of her friends.
She was also a bit of an athlete; nothing stopped her from going to water aerobics at the YMCA several times a week until last year, frequently driving others she felt needed the help. She earned the family nickname, Mountain Goat, because of her tendency to hike near the edge of cliffs on a trip to Sedona. In her 60s, she started biking around town on her three-speed wearing a helmet. And until last year, she enjoyed shelling and swimming in the ocean on her annual voyage to Cape Cod. She grew up doing most of the yard and outside work because her father was an invalid. So, she would frequently let her husband start a house project and then finish it up the right way!
Janet grew up as a member of the First Congregational Church in North Adams, where she sang in the choir and studied organ with her beloved teacher, Ralph Doman. She followed in her mother’s footsteps as a pianist and started both of her daughters on piano at a young age. When she and her husband moved to Williamstown, she was an active congregant at White Oaks Congregational Church. She served as a Deacon, the organist, the choir director, and in several leadership positions in her decades at White Oaks.
Janet was defined by her capacity to love – fiercely and widely. She loved Christmas and birthdays, often overdoing the gift-giving because of how much she loved the recipients (and how much she loved shopping)! She was humble and detested snobs or pretension. She was caring, with friends from all walks of life, and could be counted on to help most her friends with mental health and developmental disorders. Her social calendar seemed to get busier every year.
She could not have been any prouder of her two daughters, regaling all her friends with their latest accomplishments, attending concerts for the oldest and horse shows for the youngest. She carried that pride into her relationships with her three grandchildren, marveling at report cards, attending choral, clarinet, piano, and violin concerts, cheering at basketball games, and holding her breath at gymnastics meets whenever she could. She was delighted to be able to attend the graduation of her grandson from SUNY Polytechnic Institute and was looking forward to the graduation of her eldest granddaughter this year from Shenendehowa. Pictures of her family covered most surfaces in her home, with or without frames, on walls, tables, the fridge, and anywhere with a flat surface. One of Janet’s joys was also her three Pomeranians – Cinnabar, Ginger, and Teddy. She loved taking them on trips to Walmart and cooking them boiled chicken for dinner. Her most recent companion, Teddy, has been inconsolable without her.
Janet is predeceased by her husband and her first daughter, Allison Ann, who was not on this earth long enough to know Janet’s full capacity for love. She is survived by her two daughters, Ann Filiault and Linda Serapilio, and her three grandchildren, Paul Edward Serapilio, Allison Isabella Serapilio, and Clara Jane Filiault, all of whom will miss her beyond measure. A private burial will be held at Southview Cemetery, and the family intends to hold a celebration of her life with the music she chose herself as soon as pandemic health concerns ease. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Edward Filiault Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Flynn & Dagnoli Montagna Home for Funerals, 74 Marshall Street, North Adams, MA, 01247.