2018-09-06 / Community

Key to village presented to a Port Austin ‘real treasure’

By Ben Muir


(L-r) Gernith Janos poses with Thomas and Kris Minnick, her nephew and his wife. (L-r) Gernith Janos poses with Thomas and Kris Minnick, her nephew and his wife. PORT AUSTIN - The oldest living resident in Port Austin was presented a key to the village and had a day named in her honor after she spent a century touching the lives of others.

September 5th is now known as Gernith Janos Day in Port Austin. She turned 100 on Wednesday, so Port Austin villagers celebrated her at the welcome center last weekend. Janos was presented a key to the village for “touching our lives for 100 years.”

Janos was born in Port Austin. At 5 years old, she became deaf and blind due to an illness called Scarlet Fever. She slowly regained her eyesight before attending a school for the deaf in Flint at age 12. She graduated age 22. (In 1987, she had cornea transplants.)

In 1948, Gernith met John Janos at a wedding in Detroit and they got married a year later. They both worked in a factory, and John taught his wife how to drive until her eyesight faded completely due to macular degeneration.


(L-r) A sign language translator, Village Council President Dan Confer and Gernith Janos. 
Photos by Samantha Morris (L-r) A sign language translator, Village Council President Dan Confer and Gernith Janos. Photos by Samantha Morris Ms. Janos then owned and operated a laundromat in Port Austin for 27 years, during which time her husband died from a heart attack, in 1980. She frequented Chuck and Jane’s Restaurant often for coffee and just to talk with friends. One day, she noticed a pile of unwrapped silverware at the restaurant, so she just started wrapping them into napkins. That was the beginning of wrapping silverware for not only Chuck and Jane’s, but Sweetie’s, the Stock Pot Restaurant and now Joe’s Pizzeria. Community members have recently spoke on the pride they have in watching out for Janos, and the joy they feel for stopping into Joe’s to say ‘hi.’

“Always quick to smile and reach out to shake a hand or offer a hug” said her nephew, Thomas Minnick. “Gernith is a real treasure.”

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