Nursing was Janice Blair Whalen’s “true calling,” her husband, Richard Whalen, said, and she was “immensely proud” to have become a certified nurse’s aide in New York State, having previously worked in that capacity for seven years with the United States Veterans Administration in California.
She was “a tremendously warm and compassionate person,” her husband said, and her “cheerful, kind, loving” personality “naturally attracted people to her.”
“She conquered many difficulties in her life,” he said, including successfully managing schizophrenia for 15 years. Ms. Whalen, who was 43, died on Dec. 5 at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, where she was being treated for symptoms of her illness. The cause has not been determined.
Janice Diana Blair was born to Lloyd Blair and the former Merlyn Newton on Jan. 4, 1973, in Bog Walk, Jamaica, West Indies. After graduating from Dinthill Technical High School in Linstead, Jamaica, she came to the United States in 1994 on a student visa to study at Canada College in Redwood City, Calif.
From 1997 to 2004, she lived in the Palo Alto area and worked as a nurse’s aide at a Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, Calif. She then moved to Long Island to be near her younger sister.
On the South Fork, Ms. Whalen worked at a number of jobs, but will be remembered by many as a friendly face on the checkout line at the Amagansett I.G.A., where she was a cashier from 2009 to 2014.
It was there that she met her future husband in 2010. He was drawn to her cheerful smile and upbeat personality, he said, and after chatting with her again and again on the checkout line, he finally asked her out. “It was one of those fairy-tale stories,” he said.
They were married on Oct. 29, 2011, at the Amagansett Presbyterian Church, of which she was a member. They settled in Amagansett and together enjoyed hiking, camping, running, and cross-country skiing. She had never hiked before she met him, but grew to love it, Mr. Whalen said, and became a member of the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society. They traveled frequently to hike and cross-country ski in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
In addition to her husband, Ms. Whalen is survived by her father, who lives in Old Harbor, Jamaica, her mother, who lives in Bamboo, Jamaica, and by her siblings, Florence Blair-Gayle and Patrick Blair of Portmore, Jamaica, Anne-Marie Blair Thompson of Bamboo, Jamaica, and Tania Siddo of Alexandria, Va. A second brother, Keith Blair, died before her.
A funeral was held on Monday at the Amagansett Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Steven Howarth officiating. She was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Amagansett.
Memorial contributions have been suggested to the East Hampton Food Pantry, P.O. Box 505, East Hampton 11937, or the Scoville Hall Fund, First Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 1082, Amagansett 11930.