We’re incredibly sad to report that Janet Garrott Grella – South King Media’s first Sales Manager – passed away peacefully on Feb. 23, 2017.
Janet first joined The B-Town Blog in 2009 after meeting Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer at the Burien Farmers Market. She then became the company’s first Sales Manager, and turned what was then more of a “hobby” into a real business that now consists of six local blogs supported by local advertisers.
Janet brought amazing energy, humor and excellence to the blog, which quickly turned into a serious, full-timeÂ business because of her.
“I credit Janet with a great deal of our success and growth within our communities,” Schaefer said. “She was a seasoned advertising executive and we were lucky to be associated with her. If it wasn’t for Janet’s exuberance, amazing skills and belief in our digital publication, we wouldn’t be where we are today. She will be missed!”
Janet retired from the blog due to health issues in September, 2011.
A memorial service with family and friends will be held on Friday, March 10 at 1 p.m. at Yarington’s Funeral Home near Burien.
Here’s Janet’s obituary:
Janet Garrott Grella
October 2, 1949 – February 23, 2017
Beloved wife, sister, aunt, stepmother, grandmother, and dear friend to all, Janet died as she lived, boldly, fearlessly, surrounded by family and friends, and deeply loved.
Janet was born in Lafayette, Indiana. She was proud of her Midwestern roots and remained nostalgic about friends, farm, and family there throughout every chapter of her adult life. Janet attended college at Indiana University Bloomington where she majored in journalism. Post-college Janet enjoyed an illustrious career as Advertising Director at Marshall Field’s. It was there that Janet was dubbed the “Media Queen of Chicago.”
Janet moved to California to marry Michael Grella in 1991. While always a Hoosier at heart, Janet thoroughly embraced west coast (left coast) living. Feisty, funny, and full of life, Janet brought color to the dry landscape of Palm Desert. She and Michael relocated to Burien in 1995, and Janet quickly became an integral member of the community. Friendly, smart, and fun loving, Janet lived life to the fullest. Her infectious smile could light up a room. It is said that she never met a stranger, and all who knew her were fortunate to call her a friend.
An avid gardener, knitter, and honorary Italian, Janet pursued her passions with tremendous enthusiasm and gusto. She was a Cubs fan, a Hillary supporter, a student of yoga, a Willie Nelson groupie, and a staunch defender of animals, among so many other things. Janet’s vibrant personality was reflected in her uniquely beautiful and colorful style, and in the many and varied scarves that she enjoyed wearing.
Janet leaves a legacy of laughter and love. She is survived by her husband (Michael), sister (Chris), brother (Doug), Nephews (Wade, Gil, & Harry), stepdaughters (Charity, Rachel, & Alice), Granddaughter (Kathy), cat (Bernie) and countless friends and others whose lives she touched.
Lei vivr nei nostri cuori sempre. **
A memorial service with family and friends will be held on Friday, March 10 @ 1:00 at Yarington’s Funeral Home near Burien. The service will be followed by a light reception.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Janet’s memory may be made to Burien CARES, (909 SW 151st Street, Burien WA 98166) or to Planned Parenthood/West Seattle Heath Center (9942 8th Avenue SW, Seattle WA 98106).
* She has lived!
** She will live in our hearts forever.
And here are some memories of Janet as shared by Writer Ralph Nichols:
Janet was a go-getter. There is no doubt about that. With an innovative mind for advertising and marketing, matched by a buoyant determination to get things done, she promoted her ideas and made them succeed. There is no doubt that Janet would have found her niche and made her mark regardless of which door opened after moving west with Michael following a successful career in Chicago. But fate directed her to the Highline Times and, later, The B-Town Blog.
This local connection came about in one of those fleeting “right place, right time” moments. In spring 2002 Janet, a complete stranger, called for an appointment with me at the Highline Times, where I was one of two editor/reporters. She was freelancing in public relations and one of her clients was the nursery, with its unique Japanese garden, on the east side of Des Moines Memorial Drive just north of SR-518. The business was targeted for closure because it was directly under the flight path of the planned third runway at Sea-Tac International Airport.
The story she came to pitch is long forgotten, but what transpired during her visit is still easy to remember. After we exchanged pleasantries, she began to explain the plight of the nursery and whatever angle it was that she wanted the paper to cover – likely a story to raise public awareness of the need to preserve the Japanese garden. (This was accomplished within a couple of years when the vegetation was relocated with a lot of volunteer labor to the botanical gardens adjacent to the SeaTac Community Center.)
But she had only begun her presentation when Publisher Jerry Robinson barged into the conversation. The Times’ office was located at the time in a long, narrow hole-in-the-wall office in a small strip mall on SW 153rd Street. My space in the very back offered two amenities – a large rear window and a short walk to the restroom, which meant that anyone heading in there could see whomever might be talking with me. And Jerry, being curious, wanted to know who Janet was and what it was she wanted.
The more Jerry learned about her past and present in advertising, the more interested he became. After maybe 20 minutes of questions by him and answers by her, he said, “Why don’t you come do that for us?” It sounded more like he was insisting that she join the company than an invitation. And there was a definite need for Robinson Newspapers to increase Highline advertising revenue – already one major advertiser, a local supermarket, had closed its doors, and another two would follow, all victims of changing demographics and shopping patterns.
Within a couple of weeks, under the watchful eye of Janet making sure her client’s story was told just right, the Times published an article about the Japanese garden that needed a new home soon – setting in motion plans for its relocation. By then, or not much later, Janet was on board as the Highline Times’ advertising manager, ensconced in the cubicle adjacent to me in the hole-in-the-wall office. Immediately there was a buzz of activity not heard or observed before. And even as ad revenues declined with as the three supermarkets closed, she made lemonade from the lemons she was handed, finding ways to generate advertising by becoming involved in community promotions and boosting new businesses.
From day one, Janet and General Manager Roger Hollings hit it off well, making a great business team that financially sustained the papers despite hits from the loss of advertising when those markets closed. Much of this happened because her enthusiasm and determination made it so, as she almost single-handedly boosted the paper’s presence throughout the area.
Quick to align the Highline Times with Discover Burien, she made certain that the paper was well represented at Burien’s celebration of 10 years as an incorporated city in 2003, and was visible at local farmers markets and festivals. Together with Roger, she pushed a special insert that December commemorating 100 years of manned flight – making these papers the only publications in the region to mark this historic milestone despite the fact that Boeing was born in Seattle.
It was delightful with Janet on the other side of the cubicle divider in that hole-in-the-wall office, not only because we overheard each other’s conversations but, in addition to chit chat, we easily shared useful information about what was going on locally. One thing about Janet that amused her co-workers – and defied physics – was clutter. To her, the sign “A Clean Desk is the Sign of a Sick Mind” understated things. A pile of papers here and another there on her desk soon grew to another half dozen such stacks that soon intermingled on a nearby table, and then more on the floor. We were convinced that they began to grow on their own. Yet she still managed to find paperwork when it was needed.
Then there was a major well-intended promotion that blew up in her face.Â When a new dog grooming business opened in downtown Des Moines – a community that then needed all the business boosting it could get – Janet made sure it got an upbeat advertorial. Then came swift retribution when the owner of a long-established dog grooming business – and advertiser – in the area reacted angrily to the coverage for the newcomer that she had never received. Some how, some way, Janet managed to smooth the ruffled feathers and all was good again.
We encourage all those who knew Janet to share their memories of her in the Comments below…