Janis L. Yockey

Janis Lou Yockey, a lifelong resident of Ridgecrest, passed away on Dec. 4, 2019.

She was born Dec. 1, 1957, at the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. She was the daughter of journalist Don Yockey, editor of the Daily Independent and subsequently the Rocketeer, and Louise Yockey, former teacher, devoted wife and mother and active volunteer at DART and in her church community.

Janis lived with her parents on Peg Street until September 2003, when she moved into the Desert Rose Group Home following her dad’s death. Her final residence was Bella Sera Skilled Nursing Facility, where she lived since April 2018.

When Janis was born, there were no existing services in Ridgecrest for special-needs children. In March 1961 her parents, along with a small group of others, formed a parents group that established the Indian Wells Valley Association for Retarded Children.

Through their advocacy efforts with Kern County Superintendent of Schools in Bakersfield, a “trainable class” at Monroe School was established in Ridgecrest under the Kern County School District. Janis entered this class at seven years old in 1964. After she graduated in 1976, she became a member of the Sunshine House, the adult activity-training center.

The IWVARC was renamed Desert Area Resources and Training in 1991. Jan was employed for many years at the DART Thrift Shop, where her mother Louise also volunteered.

Janis had a talent for drawing whimsical, happy, portrayals of everyday life. Notably, everyone and everything was smiling — the people, the animals, the flowers, and the sun. In 1982 she won honorable mention at a Sacramento art show.

She also enjoyed participating in the Special Olympics, and relished each and every one of the ribbons she was awarded. She loved family vacations, especially her family’s annual treks to her dad’s Army reunions, which took place in a different state each year. Later she enjoyed trips with the Desert Rose Group Home residents and staff, which included Disneyland and the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Throughout her life, until the end, one of her greatest pleasures was attending Immanuel Baptist Church and singing hymns. She always looked forward to Sundays, her favorite day of the week.

— Submitted by the family of Janis Yockey

Story First Published: 2019-12-20