Janette L. Nyce

[Age 58] A gifted singer, she served as a tireless volunteer, helping to raise money for various community groups.

"She had a youthful, positive ... spirit that unselfishly gave to any cause where she was needed," a friend said.

August 13, 2007|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,Sun reporter

Janette Louise Nyce, a volunteer who enjoyed singing, died Aug. 4 of a brain tumor at her Glyndon home. She was 58.

Born Janette Louise Steele in San Diego to a military family, Mrs. Nyce moved from California to Philadelphia to Newport, R.I., and eventually to Annapolis where her father, Dr. Marshall K. Steele Jr., was assigned as an orthopedic surgeon at the Naval Academy.

She graduated in 1966 from Annapolis High School. She then attended the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a bachelor's degree in music and art. Several years later, she went back to earn another bachelor's degree in journalism.

After graduation, she worked briefly for the U.S. Department of Education before joining the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission for about 12 years to develop art and cultural programs.

She married Douglas Nyce, a developer, in 1982 after meeting him on her birthday at a restaurant. The couple moved to the Worthington Valley area north of Baltimore and raised four children.

The couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary May 1.

Mr. Nyce called his wife's sunny approach to life "her single greatest trait."

"You may have never met a more optimistic person," he said. "She just saw the cup either half-full or spilling over the top."

Mrs. Nyce was a gifted vocalist, studying classical voice for most of her adult life. In addition to appearing in local theater -- mostly before she was married, in roles such as Tuptim in The King and I -- she was also a church soloist, singing for many years at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Owings Mills.

"Her voice," said George Sack, the director of music at St. Thomas, "was a natural gift."

Sims Hagan of Lutherville, who knew Mrs. Nyce for 25 years after meeting her at childbirth class, admired not only her friend's seemingly boundless energy but also her humility.

"She could paint, decorate and create anything," Ms. Hagan said. "She could fundraise all day, create flower arrangements all night and be up the next morning to sing in her church choir.

"And the most refreshing and truly remarkable thing about Jan was that she never knew how drop-dead gorgeous or incredibly talented she was."

Mrs. Nyce volunteered for numerous community groups -- and she had a way of bringing in money for her various causes. Even if, her husband recalled, that meant jumping on a table while wearing a gown to raise money for the Walters Art Museum.

"You should have been at the Walters when she climbed up on a table with [museum director] Gary Vikan, cheering on bidders," he said. "I am not sure the Walters was ever the same."

Her causes included Roland Park Country School, the Gibson Island Club, Friends of Peabody, the Walters Women's Committee, Lake Roland Garden Club, Town & Country Garden Club, and the parents association of Roland Park Country and Gilman schools.

"She had a youthful, positive and kind spirit that unselfishly gave to any cause where she was needed," said another friend. Diane Donohue of Baltimore. "`No' was not in her vocabulary."

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 9 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by four children, Jessica Nyce of Boston, and Colby, Britton and Maggie Nyce, all of Baltimore; her mother, Elsie Steele of Annapolis; and brothers Marshall K. Steele and Ronald B. Steele of Annapolis, and Scott Steele of Severna Park.

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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