Born July 11, 1934, Janet Lorraine (Darche) Salard passed away peacefully on Nov. 10, 2023, her hands held by those she loved. Left to cherish her memory are her daughter Doris Whatley (Dan), sons John Salard, Gary Salard (Michelle), Greg Salard (Laura), and Glenn Salard, and daughter-in-law Pat Salard. She also leaves behind 17 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren. Awaiting her arrival in heaven were her husband of 63 years, Herbert “Buzz” Salard, and daughter Judy Phillips.
“I always liked my hair cut short,
brown bobs swirling as I move twirling
in the snow, in the front yard
with my brothers, Lester and Phil.
At the front door appears our mother,
her voice calling, lunch bell ringing,
though not louder than our singing.”
…Now echoed in heavenly songs of Joy.
She was special, Janet Salard. Just ask her patients to whom she tended for 40-plus years as a registered nurse or the doctors who knew they had no reason to worry when she was supervising the ICU. Something else exceptional about Janet was her appreciation for others, first and foremost her husband Buzz. She met Buzz when his Navy ship was docked in Boston, and (as the story goes) he wooed her with his Southern charm and Bluegrass fiddling. But, as revealed in their love letters from that time, it’s undeniable that the wooing was a mutual affair.
As a young woman in the 1950s, Janet confronted a few challenges when she moved to the South: “There were so many things different from my home in Massachusetts. My husband’s family couldn’t understand why I couldn’t milk cows or cook rice. And I couldn’t understand why they made fun of me...I had also grown up in a small town, but I’d been able to move alone to Boston—such a big city—and live there for three years while in nursing school.” Janet was a strong, business-minded woman, but she was also compassionate.
From an early age, Janet cared for others. When she was a pre-teen, she and her brothers took turns sitting with their father at the hospital. As she told the story, “In the mornings, my brothers would return home, knock on my door, and say, ‘It’s your time to go on the show.’”
So she tells her grandson, smiling, as he sits listening and combing hair now white and bright as snow…made light by years of mothering, grand-mothering, homemaking, and toil.
With her family as in her career, Janet always did what was needed for the show to go on. “I learned to cook southern food, red beans and rice,” she said, “and I also went to work at the hospital soon after moving to Natchitoches.” She raised six children, which was quite a lot for a native northerner of that time. And she did far more than only what was necessary–she excelled at it by being an involved parent, even while working full-time. Janet transformed herself into an icon in the area medical community, becoming known not by where she was from but for who she had made herself to be: “Mrs. Salard,” pure and simple.
On vacations to Massachusetts, northerners were surprised by her “affected accent”; in the South, she was clearly not “from here.” But she needed no one’s affirmation of her “southern womanhood,” which she now claimed. Forever a “Yankee,” she had earned her “ma’am.”
Worthy of all who cared to know her is the story of a Yankee who became a southern lady, embracing life for all its worth.
Janet expertly navigated the expectations one culture thrust upon her while fulfilling the ambitions of another, looking down on no one. She loved her husband’s family, and they learned to love her. A pioneer for modern motherhood, Janet showed that you can both be committed to your family and have a career, and that you can do both well…until the very end.
Twirl again, Janet, in your youth,
in your freedom, with your brothers,
with your mother, with your fathers,
and with Buzz, to woo once more.
And, for us, dance with Judy,
who’s now moving, new legs walking—
running fast, quick as lightning—
flying now, among birds humming—
opening arms to greet you first.
At your door, she’s now standing.
With bated breath, she’s now knocking.
We release your hands, as she’s calling,
“It’s your time to go on the show.”
Per Janet's wishes, there will be a burial service with only close family in attendance (date to be determined). In lieu of flowers, family and friends may honor Mrs. Salard by donating to either of her favorite charities: St. Jude's Children's Hospital (stjude.org) or the Louisiana Baptist Children's Home (lbch.org).