Evelyn Leona Janus (Sunny) was born on June 17, 1944, in Bound Brook, NJ to Evelyn and Raymond Janus, Sr. Sunny didn’t meet her father until more than a year later when Raymond returned from Normandy, France (Omaha Beach, D+4) during WWII.
Sunny was raised in rural North Salem, NY at Peach Lake where parents Evelyn and Ray introduced her to assorted pets and gardening – two of her passions. At an early age she gained an appreciation for fine art, all types of needlework, and homemaking arts, encouraged by her grandparents (M. Evelyn and William R. Pabst). She was a patient, natural-born teacher for her younger siblings. Sunny studied Latin and Russian in High School (during Cold War times), played baritone horn in the band, and was a member of the National Honor Society when she graduated from Purdy’s Central High School in 1962.
Sunny attended Western College for Women (WCW) in Oxford, Ohio. While a junior at WCW, she participated with 24 students in a Russian language study tour of the (then) USSR (which included visits to Moscow, Leningrad, Odessa, and Kiev) from July 15 to August 20, 1965. Sunny then moved to Waterloo, Ontario to attend the University of Waterloo where she obtained an M.A. in Russian Literature. Vacations were spent camping and touring the Canadian Maritimes. She took her youngest brother Will (14) and sister Rainie (16) to Expo ’67 in Montreal, giving them their first international experience.
In the 1980s, she relocated from Montreal, Canada to Peekskill, NY where she raised Komondor dogs, goats, and over 100 rabbits, each with its own name appropriate to its breed. Some rabbits were raised for their angora fur, which she spun into yarn, then knitted into articles of clothing. During this period, Sunny provided spinning demonstrations at Pete Seeger’s annual Hudson River Revival Festivals, devoted to restoration of the Hudson River.
In September 1996 Sunny married the love of her life, Joe Dickerson Sr. Sunny and Joe attended St. James Episcopal Church, where she served on the altar guild and worked on the annual auction quilts. They created a magnificent vegetable garden and renovated the family farmhouse at Peirano Point on Titicus Reservoir while caring for Joe’s mom (Nancy Peirano). Sunny worked for Metro-North Railroad in the Risk Management Department for more than 20 years and when she retired, she received a gold watch.
Sunny and Joe retired to Oriental, NC. Their pride and joy was a 32-foot Beneteau yacht parked out front on Spicer’s Creek. There, Sunny enjoyed creating award-winning quilts, two of which won first place blue ribbons at the Crystal Coast Quilt Show. Spending time with her family, especially Joe’s great-grandchildren, was another of her favorite pastimes. Using her sewing skills, Sunny created Advent calendars with a tiny, wrapped gift in the pocket for each day of Advent for all her great-grandchildren. Over the past decade, collecting and mailing all the small presents every year earned her the legendary title of "Great Sunny" in preference to great-grandmother. Sunny and Joe enjoyed many wonderful years together. Sunny passed away on February 8, 2022, in New Bern, NC from pneumonia after treatments for Alpha Thalassemia which weakened her immune system.
She is survived by Joe Robert Dickerson, her husband of 26 years; brother Raymond “Bud” (Patrice) Janus Jr of West Palm Beach, FL; sister Lorraine “Rainie” Janus Hathaway of North Salem, NY; William “Will” (Patricia) Janus of Mendham, NJ; step-sons Joe Dickerson, Jr, Pensacola, FL; Jon (Elaine) Dickerson, Neptune Beach, FL; James (Chris) Dickerson Augusta, GA; Jeff (Susan) Dickerson, Evans, GA; step-daughter Judith Anne “Judy” (Kenny) Broadwater, Blairsville, GA; Tom (Lisa) Miller San Diego CA; Tara (Brett) Cassaday New Freedom PA; nephews Peter, Todd, and Dylan Janus, 15 grandchildren, 12+ great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren.
Evelyn (Sunny) was preceded in death by father Raymond John Janus, mother Evelyn Leona Pabst Janus, and Brother-in-Law Norman Blasdell Hathaway.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Checks should be made payable to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and your donation mailed to: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.