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Grand Forks, ND – Janis Lorraine Hoff, 85, of Grand Forks, passed and made her “final move” on December 28, 2020.
Jan was born in Fargo to Erling and Violet (Lamb) Backe and attended Fargo Central High School, graduating in 1953. After high school she worked at the North Dakota Insurance Bureau until meeting her soulmate, Milton John Hoff. Jan and Milt were married on June 16, 1956 and began their great adventure together, starting with a move to Chicago. She worked various jobs, mainly in insurance, eventually returning to North Dakota.
After a daughter, Sandra, was born Janis decided to pursue a teaching degree from Moorhead State College, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1965. She and Sandra started school the same day­ Sandra in kindergarten and Janis with her first class of elementary students. She taught special education and lower elementary grades in several communities in North Dakota and Minnesota, moving often because of her husband’s career.
In 1975 the family settled in Thief River Falls, which became home for many years. Unable to continue teaching as Milt was an administrator, Jan worked as a design consultant for Home Lumber while researching starting a business. In 1978 she opened The Mercantile Company selling women’s clothing and eventually expanding to three locations.
She was active in the business community and held leadership positions in the Chamber of Commerce and Retail Business Association. She was also the founder of the TRF AAUW chapter as well as a leader with the United Methodist Women. She always enjoyed the bridge group, volleyball group, friends and designing and decorating homes. After selling her businesses she became the director of the Small Business Development Center in TRF, a position she held until retirement.
In retirement, Jan and Milt spent 15 years making Fountain Hills, AZ their new home with new friends and activities including bridge, social and church activities. Travel became a huge part of their retirement as they enjoyed visiting about 30 countries, often on cruises, with Greece being a favorite.
During all of these years, Jan and Milt built many homes – moving approximately 40 times during their marriage. Friends often said she owed them an address book because they filled up all of the “H” spaces.
Faith was always important to Janis, being a lifelong member of the Methodist Church with the exception of her Presbyterian years in Arizona. She was always active and held many leadership roles. Doing a puzzle or reading a good book by the fire after a great dinner with friends or a concert were her favorite times.
Janis is survived by her husband, Milton, daughter Sandra (Timothy) Dittus, granddaughters Johanna and Christina as well as sisters Arlene (Bill) Kardoes, Kathryn Trill and Carol (Ric) Hallquist, many nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brother-in-law Robert Trill.
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