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Janet (Jan) Gillum

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Janet (Jan) Gillum (Wade) passed away peacefully at Taylor House Hospice on July 1, 2023. Jan was born to James (Jim) Wade and Hazel Wade (Kirkman) on February 16, 1936 in Des Moines, IA. Jan was the oldest of 7 children, Phyllis Hansman, Gerry Masimore (Omaha), Jim Wade (Oklahoma), Hazel (Kathy) Wade-Smothers (deceased), Ralph Wade (California) and Debra Portsche.

A visitation will be held for Jan on Monday, July 10th from 5 to 7 pm, and a celebration of life will be held Tuesday, July 11th at 10:30 am both at the Sunset Chapel at 7601 Fleur Drive in Des Moines. The funeral will be livestreamed at the following link: https://player.vimeo.com/video/843515857

In 1952 Jan met her husband Ronald (Ron) Gillum at Kresge’s Drug Store in downtown Des Moines where she was working behind the counter serving soda and ice cream. She quickly fell for his James Dean looks and smooth-talking personality then on February 27, 1954 they were married. On December 16th, 1954 they welcomed their first child Ronald Jr. (Karen) then 3 years apart came the other 3 of the “4 R’s” Roxanne, Robin (Susane) and Russell (Brenda).

God, family, work and running were all important things in Jan’s life. Getting up on Sunday mornings and heading out to church was the norm for this family. Attending Bethany Open Bible in their younger days and then attending First Assembly of God. Jan and Ron were proud that they had established a Godly foundation that would impact their family for the rest of their lives.

When not working, Jan, Ron and the family enjoyed very memorable vacations every year traveling often to Lake of the Ozarks (Osage Beach), Table Rock-Branson, MO and Estes Park, CO. In their later years Jan and Ron vacationed as often as possible in Marco Island, FL, Scottsdale, AZ and visited her family in southern CA.

Jan’s work ethic was second to none. Putting in 60 years of service for the same company is no small feat and she did it proudly. She held her position with pride as John Ruan’s administrative assistant and was very devoted to her job. Her role also has her deeply involved in the coordination of the annual Ruan MS Golf Classic. The largest fund raiser for MS in the United States. She had the opportunity to meet most all of the golf legends; Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez, etc.. In fact it was during one of these tournaments that Tom Watson offered Jan a job to run his office in Kansas City. While she felt honored with the offer, she knew it wasn’t the right move to relocate to KC. And away from her family and company she loved. Jan was also honored to be selected as a committee member to serve on Governor Branstad state physical fitness iniative. She was a super woman in some respects as she would put in a 10 hour day, go home, feed the family, take care of the household tasks and then off to bed only to rise at 4:30 am to go for a run with her friend Beth and then off to work from there to enjoy another day of work. She was a special lady, a mother who instilled so many of her qualities in her children. As David Elbert (Des Moines Register) explained it in one of his articles on Jan, “Jan Gillum retired at the age of 85 after 60 years with the Ruan family businesses. I’ve known her for more than 30 years and while she would never say this, I will: Jan Gillum is as close to the perfect executive assistant as anyone will ever find”. A devoted wife, mother and employee the likes that will surely forever be missed.

As mentioned, Jan loved to run. Jan was in her early 40’s when she started her 40 year running career. It started as a treatment for her migraine headaches. She began jump roping in the garage, moved up to short runs up and down the street in the neighborhood. She would then meet her friend Kris to begin training for her first marathon that they both completed at The Covered Bridge Days Marathon 1979. Now after 30+ marathons she was a very accomplished runner competing in several races. A couple of notable marathons were the Chicago Marathon 1984 (where she qualified for the Boston Marathon), the Boston Marathon 1985, 50 mile run on her 50th birthday February 1986 and the Marine Corp Marathon 1986 finishing 1st in her age group 50-54.

With everything else going on in her busy schedule Jan decided to take up golfing later on in her early 60’s. She enjoyed her time on the course while golfing in different women's EWG leagues. In the Executive Women's Golf she would qualify for national tournaments by winning city, state, regional levels. A big highlight for Jan was in the Allianz Pro-Am 2002 at Glen Oaks Country Club golfing with Ed Dougherty when they were on a hole and she was in a sand trap unable to see the green. She made the chip out of the sand and 3’ from the hole.

Jan enjoyed life and family and would always put others first. She always wanted to help others and was the most giving person you will ever meet. That loving and giving is passed on to her grandchildren Danielle Sikes, Kristin Sumpter, Crystal Sikes, Lindsay Peterson, Staci Larsen, McKara Johnson, Wade Gillum, Karis Johnson and her 10 great grandchildren. Jan was preceded in death by her husband Ron, parents James and Hazel Wade, sister Kathy Wade-Smothers, niece Mary Hansman, niece Kristin Moore, niece ReNee Berry and great grandson Anthony Gillum.

Memorials may be directed to the family to support causes dear to Jan’s heart.




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