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The Kirby File: Of beauty, elegance, grace and tender heart for all … Janice Melton was that woman

'She desired to make a difference in the lives of others,' the Rev. Bruce Herrmann would remind us at the Celebration of Life on Nov. 6 at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, and where Janice Horner Melton was remembered, too, for her love of animals


All of us have heard about those just as beautiful within as what we saw of them on the outside.

Janice Melton was that woman.

“We all recognized she was beautiful,” the Rev. Bruce Herrmann would remind us on this day of farewell at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. “She was stunning. She was elegant and graceful, but beautiful inside.”

Janice Melton was that woman.

“Janice was a passionate woman,” the preacher would say. “She desired to make a difference in the lives of others. She turned some lives around. She enriched our lives through her love and presence. She pointed children in the right direction. She made a positive impact on the lives of teachers and students.”

Janice Melton was that woman.

“She had a passion for animals,” the preacher would say. “She had a heart for stray critters. She cared for dogs and cats that had been discarded. Her dog was Boots, and Boots was family. If you were privileged to be close to Janice, she brought you into her world of loving and saving animals through the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society.”

Janice Melton was that woman.

“Janice was passionate about being a faithful daughter and wife,” the preacher would say. “She loved her mom and cared for her while her mom was sick and selflessly being her caregiver for years. Then, she kept her vow caring for her husband for over 11 years as they battled Alzheimer’s together. She stood by those she loved showing love, compassion and patience.”

Janice Melton was that woman.

Quietly, she listened

“Janice was passionate about her friends,” Herrmann would say. “Her friends loved her and recognized her loyalty. Chris Pasch remembers the day they met. She was sitting on the back row in her Sunday school class, grieving because of a recent loss. Janice came over and asked with her soft Southern accent if she could sit with her.”

Janice Melton could have walked on by, but she saw someone with a troubled heart. Quietly, she sat. Quietly, she listened.

“A friendship was formed and Chris knew God had sent her an angel, who would inspire her because of her faith and friendship,” Herrmann would say. “Janice’s friendship has changed her life for the better. All her friends recognized Janice was beautiful both inside and out.”

Oh, yes, Janice Melton was that woman of such compassionate heart.

“Janice’s treasured her friends,” the preacher would say.  “Wherever she invested her time, she invested in her friends,” be it with the book club, the garden club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society or with member of the LightHouse Sunday school class.

An abiding faith in God

“Janice loved her church and her Sunday school class,” the preacher would say. “You were her family. Her support. Her friends. You were her prayer warriors. But being passionate about your church and passionate about your Lord are two different things.

“Yes, she loved and supported her church,” the Rev. Herrmann would say. “But that was because of her passion and love for her Lord. Her faith was strong. She knew God was loving and faithful throughout her life. She spoke of his love, presence and faithfulness even as she faced death.

“She maintained a positive outlook and fought hard. She gave her all.

“Janice was passionate about Terry, her fiancé she’d hope to marry,” Herrmann would say. “Even though her cancer diagnosis and sickness put the marriage on hold,” Terry Williams’ love for her and her love for him never waned. “You, Terry, cared for her as a husband would.

Janice Horner Melton peacefully died Nov. 1.

She was 77.

“Janice left us sooner than we or she imagined, but we knew whenever that time came, she was prepared to meet her Savior,” Herrmann would say. “She was at peace knowing her eternal home in heaven awaited her because of her faith in Christ. She confessed him as her Lord and Savior. She welcomed his love, grace and mercy. Because of that, Jesus prepared for her a place in heaven.”


And just this side of heaven, the anonymous poet tells us, is a place called Rainbow Bridge, where the dogs and cats and animals we have loved and cared for with all of our hearts romp with one another in the meadows and hills.

“… but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance,” the poet writes. “His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.”

Imagine, if only you can, when all of the animals she loved so dear, saw Janice Melton on that glorious day at Rainbow Bridge, and the joy that filled Janice Melton’s heart.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.