End of Life Wishes

Family, VITAS Team Celebrate a Long Islander’s Long Life

March 19, 2020

Anna with her birthday cake

The party had already started when Laurie Nichols, senior marketing representative for VITAS in Brevard County, brought out the cake and balloons for the guest of honor.

VITAS patient Anna Janas was the lady of the hour.

Breezy palm trees, colorful flip-flops and three bold numerals adorned the top of the nautically themed cake instead of candles. Any flames–let alone 102 birthday candles–could pose a hazard in the high-oxygen environment of West Melbourne Health and Rehabilitation Center.

“Anna was so excited and grateful” to celebrate her 102nd birthday surrounded by family, her VITAS personnel team and West Melbourne staff, Laurie says.

She cut her cake on her own and immediately offered a piece to her roommate, Linda. Anna’s daughter Peggy was in attendance for the milestone, too.

At VITAS, making sure patients and their families come first is one of our core values.

‘Honored... to Put This Party Together’

Peggy talked with Laurie and shared a little more about her mother’s long life:

Born on Fishers Island in Long Island, New York, Anna had big dreams from a young age. During her sophomore year of high school, she decided she would move to New York City and become a famous singer.

Anna's Lady of the Year award statuette

When she met Al Janas, her plans changed. She stayed in town to marry Al, and eventually the couple had Peggy.

Al was in the Army, so when he was stationed in Japan–and later throughout Europe–Anna and Peggy followed along.

Anna took the opportunity to pursue her passion for singing and performed at various events wherever they were stationed. Often, Peggy joined her onstage to harmonize.

In 2000, Anna received some well-earned recognition at the Company G 511th Parachute Infantry reunion in Nashville, Tennessee: the Lady of the Year award.

"We were so honored to be able to put this party together,” Laurie says. “It didn’t just light up Anna’s day, it lit up the VITAS and facility staff’s, too.”