D.H. Lawrence once said, “It is not the length of life but the depth.” If one agrees with this conclusion then Janet (Jan) Lena’s, of Laguna Beach, certainly filled the bill.
Born in New York City in 1941, Lena spent her formative years in Long Branch, N.J., where she developed a love of the ocean, becoming an avid ocean swimmer and body surfer.
An adventurous spirit led Lena to travel the world, including traveling by freighter to India, living and working on a kibbutz in Israel, traveling through and residing in Europe, Africa, and India.
Lena settled in California to attend City College of San Francisco. The early years of the 1960s proved a fertile ground for her activism, art and development into a compassionate woman. From one of the only Caucasians and definitely the only white woman to enroll in the African American studies program at the college to a lifelong passion for racial equality, women’s rights and gay rights, Lena enveloped every person and every cause with love and gusto.
Lena moved to Laguna Beach approximately 30 years ago to join the progressive arts community, study sculpture at the school of art in Laguna, and deepen her ties to the ocean and nature. Her creativity blossomed as she transitioned from an accomplished potter to a recognized marble sculptor.
Lena had scores of friends from coast to coast. She was that rare person with a true gift for intimacy. When you sat down for a quiet talk with her, you were, at that moment, the only person in the world. Your problems became her problems; your life’s triumphs were celebrated by waves of love and enthusiasm. Of course, what many will remember is her humor. Lena could take the most serious crisis or silliest event and turn it into one of her long, hilarious repertoire of stories.
Above all Lena was a caretaker and healer. hrough her generosity of spirit she was a caregiver to many and assisted, when needed, those making their transition to the next phase of life.
As befitting this intense lover of life, Lena was also an accomplished athlete, body surfing and ocean swimming into her late 60s! Unable to accept a six-month cancer diagnosis without a fight, she relied on both traditional and alternative medicine to turn the doctor’s six-month prediction into an additional two and a half years of life filled with friends, family and love. A passionate warrior woman to the end!
Lena leaves behind scores of friends and loved ones throughout the world and a legacy of humor and kindness.
A private memorial service is planned for May 12 at 2 p.m. For details call 941-408-5362. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Lynn House, 668 N. Coast Highway, #1250, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Federal Tax ID# 201315134.