Janella Sue Sanburn, nee Charlson, went home to be with her beloved Lord and Savior on February 8, 2013, after a courageous, 5-plus-years-long battle with cancer.
Janella, who would often introduce herself as “Janella…Vanilla” so folks would remember her name, was born in Ft. Dodge, Iowa, on February 26, 1960, the youngest of eight children.
She grew up in Humboldt, IA, and was very active during these early years, especially during both high school and college. Janella participated in various musical, theatrical and sports events while attending both Humboldt High School (HHS), from which she was graduated in 1978, and Iowa Central Community College.
She was a talented singer, and was a member of both Concert Chorale and Swing Choir while at HHS, serving as Vice President of the Concert Chorale her senior year. Janella also had various lead roles in school plays and musicals while in high school. She continued to sing when attending ICCC, and was also part of their show choir there.
As an athlete, Janella received all-conference softball honors playing third base, and was part of the first girl's softball team at HHS to play in the state tournament; she was a returning letterman of the track and field team throughout high school, where she threw the discus.
Janella was a member of the National Honor Society, an organization that recognized those students who maintained a high level of academic and leadership excellence in their school and throughout their community.
Accepting Christ as her Savior at the age of 18, Janella decided she should attend a Bible college, and so first came to Owatonna, to attend Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, in 1982. Following her graduation from PBBC, Janella became a teacher at Faith Baptist Christian school in Sterling, IL, where she met her future husband, Brian.
Janella and Brian were married, on December 21, 1985, in Sterling, Illinois. In the following years, Janella and Brian had two boys: Josiah and Caleb. In 1993, the family moved back to Owatonna, where they eventually made their home for nearly 20 years.
While in Owatonna, Benjamin and Jared, her two youngest children, were born.
Janella was a stay-at-home mom/wife who invested a lot of her valuable time in homeschooling her children and tending to her family. She also was a long-time and well-known waitress at The Kernel Restaurant and its predecessor, The Country Kitchen.
Singing was one of Janella''s talents, as evidenced by, among other things, her second-place finish at the “50+ Strut Your Stuff” talent contest and first-place performance in the Open Division at the Steele County Free Fair, both in 2011. From singing specials in church to belting out favorite and well-known tunes from the 40s and 50s, Janella loved to sing.
One of Janella''s favorite activities was playing Boggle, a game at which she excelled much to the chagrin of her opponents. She also never saw a garage sale and auction she didn't like, often recycling household goods and furniture for use by her own family or to be sold in her own garage sales.
Above all, Janella loved the Lord and sought to serve Him. To that end, she was busy in Grace Baptist Church over all the years in which she resided in Owatonna. Janella is the spiritual mother of more than a few people, something for which she gave glory to God.
Janella Sanburn is survived by her husband of 27 years, Brian; her four children, Josiah, Caleb, Benjamin and Jared; her mother, Naomi Hill of Dakota City, IA; sisters Janine Witte of Ft. Dodge, IA, Janet (and Mike) Craig of Ft. Dodge, IA, and Joyce (and Terry) Nerhus of Badger, IA; brothers Doug (and SuJean) Charlson of Caliente, NV, Dorian (and Pam) Charlson of Des Moines, IA, Daryl (and Kelly) Charlson of Ankeny, IA and Dennis Charlson of Humboldt, IA; many nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews as well as countless friends.
Janella was preceded in death her father Melbourne Charlson and her step-father Alva D. Hill.
Visitation will be at Michaelson Funeral Home on Thursday, February 14, 2013 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM and one hour prior to the service in the church. Funeral services will be held Friday, February 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM at Grace Baptist Church with Pastor David Levy officiating. The family asks that in lieu of gifts, donations be made to the Gerson Institute (“A non-profit organization in San Diego, CA, dedicated to providing education and training in the Gerson Therapy, an alternative, non-toxic treatment for cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases.”).
May she now enjoy forever, with the Lord and Savior she loved and sought to serve, the fruits of her spiritual labors: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21 KJV).