Janet Ortquist

Janet M. Ortquist (Kinney)

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Janet M. Ortquist, 87, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, February 21, 2020, surrounded by her family.

She was the second of three daughters born to loving parents Reverend Delbert and Clara Kinney. She graduated from Clifton High school in Clifton NJ and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from Hope college in Holland, Michigan. She met and married her late husband Reverend Milton R. Ortquist while attending Hope College. She obtained a Master’s degree in Education from the University of Connecticut. She was a Home and Careers teacher with the Beacon School District from 1972 to 1996. She also was the organist, Sunday school teacher and choir director at the Beacon Reformed Church from 1966 to 1985.

She is survived by her six children, fourteen grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Her Life will take place at the Salem Tabernacle Church, 7 Delavan Avenue, Beacon, NY ((THE DATE HAS BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL A LATER DATE; AS SOON AS A NEW DATE IS DECIDED, IT WILL BE POSTED PUBLICLY FOR ALL)). Arrangements were entrusted to the care of LIBBY FUNERAL & CREMATION SERVICES; to offer a message of condolence or share a memory, please visit:
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Service Details

  • Service

    Salem Tabernacle Church
    7 Delavan Avenue
    BEACON, NY 12508
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Her Celebration of Life has been postponed until a later, as soon as a new date is decided it will be posted again for the public.
  • Interment

    Private Interment - Fishkill Rural Cemetery
    801 Route 9
    FISHKILL, NY 12524
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Ricardo Sheppard

Posted at 06:59pm
Hello and my deepest condolences at the passing of your mother. I Can truly say that I am the man that I am because of your parents. Although your father Rev. Ortquist played the largest role in that change, he always spoke of your mother and I had the opportunity to meet her once or twice. You see I am a graduate of Downstate Correctional Facility, where my life was changed and resurrected. I am happy to say that many of us who were there during the time Rev. Ortquist served are all doing well and grateful to God for your families love of God and unwavering love of others. May God bless you and comfort you during this time.
Rev. Ricardo Sheppard
Atonement Episcopal Church
Washington DC

Merideth Geers

Posted at 12:32am
She Loves Me Like a Rock
Mom’s kitchen, hmm, where could one possibly begin? The source of the fondest of memories and fun played out in this room, the heart of our home. We had a blast around that huge, bright yellow, custom-made, Formica kitchen table. It had to be custom-made for our family of eight, plus extras, if we all wanted to enjoy a meal together. When we weren’t playing “table top football” with our little home-made folded paper triangles, we were singing or enjoying another spontaneous drumming session eruption that would go on and on and on as we used our hands or wooden spoons to create raucous rhythms and table top drum beats while mom prepared yet another exotic meal. She always tried out her newest recipe experiments on us before incorporating them into her Beacon High School Home Economics cooking classes or International Foods courses. I am grateful for all the culinary lessons that I was able to absorb just by hanging out in that kitchen watching Mom cook. To name a few: Egg Foo Yung, Lasagna, Clam Bisque, Pasta Fagioli, Sausage Supreme Casserole, Hot German Potato Salad, Fried Tomatoes, and of course, her famous from scratch Cinnamon Rolls. I am so thankful that I took the time to really learn that recipe since the requests to keep the tradition going on for the next generation have been trickling in from some of my family for lessons on the finer points of making/baking this delectable family heirloom recipe. We all know food is a such a tangible and sacrificial means of demonstrating love. Yes, food is sustenance for our bodies but it is also nourishment for the soul. Mom was always ready with a yummy pot of love to dish out to anyone.
On occasion, Mom would receive a care package in the mail from her mom, our Grandmother, Clara Kinney. In the summer of 1973, my fourteenth year, one of these care packages arrived at our door as we were all gathered around that yellow table with many of our neighborhood friends. There were so many kids in that kitchen with every stool occupied and standing room only. Well, it was a whopper of a box and was certain to be filled with carefully packed items, cushioned with wads of newspaper. Mom was in another of her fun-loving, goofy, bubbly moods as she excitedly prepared to open that box from her Momma. Who doesn’t like getting a care package from their mom, right? We all gathered around the table to watch as she grabbed a kitchen knife to cut through the tape and then began to dig into it to reveal the contents for all to see. She did it with a flair though. As she reached into the box, she broke into song and before long the whole room full of kids was joining in with the popular tune of the day. With every item she lifted out, she sang the chorus to Paul Simon’s newest hit song, “Loves Me Like a Rock”. It was a real production, I tell ya! She would lift out those re-purposed coffee cans one at a time and the whole room would erupt with the refrain:
“Oh my mama loves, she loves me, Whoa she loves me like a rock.
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me. Loves me like a rock…
She rocks me like the Rock of Ages, she loves me.”

The myriad of labeled coffee cans filled with all sorts of cookies and snacks were finally all on the table. Various additional items continued to emerge one at a time with each being followed by the chorus of Mom and all of us singing, “Whoa, she loves me like a Rock!”. Didn’t matter if it was socks or dish towels, the guffaws and giggles rang out. It was such good, clean fun and Mom was the ringleader. Finally, the last item from the bottom of the box was lifted out. Mom was in singing in full voice, when, SURPRISE!!, out comes a big box of KOTEX sanitary napkins! Everything came to a screeching halt. The singing stopped mid-verse as everyone stared for that very brief moment in time. We could certainly relate to that proverbial pin hitting the floor. Mom simply said “whoops” and quickly replaced the Kotex back in the box. After about six seconds of complete silence, the hilarity of the scene took over and we were all practically rolling on the floor with belly busting laughter. The teenage girls in the room (myself included) could not hide our rosy-cheeked embarrassment as we laughed along with everyone. Makes me chuckle even today.

Reflecting on the meaning behind words and lyrics to this song, what was Paul Simon trying to say with those lyrics? He was obviously a referring to a mother's love among other things. But more than that, he was comparing a mother's love to The Rock of Ages. Now that's something! As a mother myself, I know I would be willing to lay down my life for my sons. So, there you have it. In contrast, my Mom taught me and anyone that would listen of how God, in His great love and mercy sent HIS only Son to die in my place - the One who really did lay His life down for us all out of his love for us. His name - Jesus Christ. There is no greater love. On Christ the solid ROCK I stand. Thanks, Mom, for ALL of the lessons.

Merideth Geers

Posted at 01:03am
Grab your coffee (Long Read)

Since the Celebration of my Mother's Life has been postponed until this crazy pandemic subsides, bear with me as I memorialize her here.

A Refuge in Times of Trouble

After four years in Brooklyn as pastor of the South Bushwick Reformed Church, Dad, Milton R. Ortquist, and Mom, Janet M. Ortquist, packed up their tribe of six kids age 1 to 8 and headed North to Beacon, NY. (Yes, we were a tribe long before the politically “incorrect” meaning of the term). It was the summer of 1966 and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing with Martin Luther King Jr speeches, marches for equality and fair housing. President L. B. Johnson was committing to send another 100,000 troops to Vietnam to join the 275,000 already sent over the year before as the long war continued.

Dad and Mom were very much aware of the social unrest in the nation. As kids, (I was the second eldest at age 7 in 1966), we were too young and oblivious to the war and the civil rights issues of the times, at least for a while. You see, Dad and Mom had the idea that if we could all just live together, grow up together, the next generation would come to know and love people regardless of the color of their skin. Dad and Martin Luther King Jr. were both born in 1929.
At the age of 9, I distinctly recall my mother, sitting in front of our black and white television with the rabbit ear antennas, sobbing inconsolably in our family room. It was either in the early evening of April 4th or morning of April 5th, 1968. I asked my mother why she was crying and she could hardly get out the words “A very great man has died.” I will never forget that day. The news was reporting on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Arrival
The drive from 15 Himrod Street in Brooklyn to Beacon was about an hour and 30 minutes up the Hudson. Ferry Street was amazing with beautiful Victorian homes all the way from Bank Square to the Hudson River. Upon arrival, the first place we stopped was the home of IBM Manager, and past president of the Beacon School Board, Mortimer H. Brockway, on Rombout Ave. He was also an Elder at the Beacon Reformed Church. From his driveway we could see an incredible Victorian house that we later learned was the Kittredge House as it was named for the doctor who lived there at one time. It was just to the left (South) of the Beacon Reformed Church. Mom truly thought this was the parsonage and our new home. But it wasn’t.

The house on the North side of the Beacon Reformed Church was 50 Ferry Street. It was kind of boxlike and certainly wasn’t as Victorian or glamorous as the Kittredge House but it is where our Beacon story began.

The Early Days

As newcomers to the neighborhood, we made our way forging friendships and connecting with the local kids over that first summer. I am certain that there was some confusion as this white family moved into the neighborhood. All we knew was that this was our home and where we belonged. There were a few petty skirmishes, but Mom would lock us out of the house and tell us to figure out how to get along. With the innocence of youth, we made friends quickly and to this day we cherish the friends we made in those days. I will never forget my first dear friend, Parnell Corbett (God rest her soul).

I started third grade at South Avenue School that Fall. There was one particularly memorable event in that first year. Late one evening, after we were all sent up to our beds for the night, Mom heard an unusual thud at the front door. Confused as to what it could be, she quickly proceeded to the door to investigate. To her utter surprise, as she opened the door, she saw the source of the sound. A man had fallen against the door and lay there barely conscious with a knife sticking out of his back! He came to the right place. Mom carefully dragged him into the house. Avoiding further injury with the protruding knife, she hoisted him up onto an old day bed/couch in the family room where he continued to lose a tremendous amount of blood. She immediately called for an ambulance and for my Dad to come home from a meeting. The ambulance arrived and he was taken away to the hospital. The next day, word spread quickly throughout the neighborhood and our house became rather morbidly popular as we showed off the bloodied couch to the parade of neighborhood kids that kept coming just to gawk at the blood-stains and to hear us somewhat proudly describe our Momma’s brave life-saving efforts. We were happy to learn that the man survived his injuries. Word of Mom and Dad’s honest caring for our community was getting around.

Over the years, Mom and Dad facilitated a healthy open-door policy. Our house at 50 Ferry Street became The Gathering Place. It was also a place of refuge for so many. No one was ever turned away. On school days, Dad filled his Ford van with as many school-age kids as he could fit into it. He became the neighborhood “bus” driver for us and all the kids in our neighborhood because the walk to the Rombout Junior H.S. and Beacon H.S. was rather long on those cold winter days.

Dad also installed an industrial-sized milk dispenser in the kitchen. Once a week we would get a delivery of three five-gallon jugs of milk for that dispenser. Fifteen gallons a week didn’t seem to last long at our house. The milk flowed freely for anyone any time.

The neighbors must have thought we were wealthy people when a big pool was installed in our back yard. Dad was always in support of a community pool but the funding was not there for it in those days. It was only when a fairly wealthy church member who was an airline pilot, Andrew Ross and his wife, June, donated a pool for the backyard at 50 Ferry Street. It became the community pool. We had three different swimming times every day over the hot summer months with Mom, Dad or me lifeguarding. Everyone would be checked for impetigo before getting in the pool. Eddie Williams, the BHS football star, learned how to eat some humble pie after I easily beat him in a swimming race one very fine day.

When Dad was the Director of the Youth Drug Abuse (YDA)Taskforce in Beacon, Tony B. and Joann C. came to live with us. Mom would drive them from Beacon to the Methadone Clinic in Poughkeepsie every other day. We knew not to touch the orange liquid in the little dispenser cups that were kept in the refrigerator over the weekend as these were their weekend doses. Then there was a girl who was deaf/mute who lived with us for a while. She was interesting. Later, in our teens, Wendy came to live with us a few different times. Mom helped her get a waitressing job to keep her off the streets, away from pimps and needles. Sadly, Wendy died of AIDS in early 1990s. Then there was the strange homeless teenage boy that Dad found at one of the Sloop festivals. He lived in the attic for several months until we found the model of “The Invisible Woman” hidden in his room. That one creeped us girls out just a bit!! The teenage single mom, Sandy, and her beautiful baby girl with nowhere to live needed to finish her last year of high school at B.H.S. Mom welcomed her into our home until she secured Section VIII housing. She was nervous about living with us at first, but not for long as she learned people are people. Gena P. came to live with us as well and shared her own story on fb of how Mom suggested she move in with us to be able to finish her last year at B.H.S. when her family moved out of the area.

There was always music in my mother’s house. There was always a cantata to get ready for or a choir practice. Many in our neighborhood still remember the Magic Penny song my Mama taught them. " Love is something if you give it away. It’s just like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won’t have any. Lend it spend it and you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor for…. Love is something if you give it away. You’ll end up having more."

Michael Faison could often be found at our piano playing and singing his heart out...“It was just my imagination, running away with me…” Michael has since traveled all over the world bringing the joy of his music to all venues including nursing homes, live feed on fb, cruise ships and even as far as Dubai.

Our neighbors reciprocated with demonstrations of love in many ways too. In 1973, I experienced a very traumatic knee injury requiring a full length cast for many weeks. I was out of school for at least two weeks initially. Our dear neighbor, Mrs. Ruth Brock, would bravely come over every morning with a warm breakfast of eggs, toast and always a bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice. I say bravely because she was a little more than intimidated by our lovable family Weimaraner dog, Edelweiss. Miss Ruth’s kindness will never be forgotten. I cannot drink Welch’s grape juice without thinking of her to this day.

As the years went by, the social activities evolved too. There were youth club weekend retreats. Mom and Dad would pack up to 25 kids and enough groceries in a caravan for a long weekend or even a full week and head to the Tri Parish Retreat Center or Warwick Conference Center. Nearly every Friday night we hosted DJ and Dance nights that were wildly popular in the 70’s. If memory serves me well it seemed there would be 75 to 100 kids packed in for a Friday night dance party. There was the Lighthouse Coffee House that welcomed everyone who wanted to go deeper into matters of the heart of the Christian Faith and sharing their personal walk with God. Later, on Mom worked with battered women and would open her home as a “Safe House” to young ladies in need. Each one of the individuals mentioned or described could easily be a “story” in and of itself. There were so many lives that were impacted by generosity, hospitality, love and the faith that was lived out at our first home in Beacon at 50 Ferry Street from 1966 to 1984.
I believe my parents succeeded with imparting one of the most valuable lessons in life. It was based on two simple yet profound Biblical Principles and Commandments: Loving God and loving your neighbor as you would yourself.
Matthew 22
36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
[37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
[38] This is the first and great commandment.
[39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
[40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.


Brynne Love

Posted at 11:38am
From Brynie Madeline Cooper:

Brynne. I just saw the message about your mom. I'm so sorry to hear she has passed. I was at her house the 15 of December. It was a lovely day and I wanted to say hi. I dont go to Beacon very much. I'm so upset I didn't get a chance to sit and talk with her again. She was one of the few good things in my life during a really hard time. I remember talking with her about so many things. She was so kind. She was also one of the reasons I was able to find myself when I was so lost. I would go to the old house to see her and if she wasnt home, I'd sit by the side of the church until I felt better. I will always remember her ,her great smile and the hope and strength she gave me.


Merideth Geers

Posted at 11:59pm
The Handsome Stranger
It was a beautiful day to go dump diving in the Spring of 1974. Mom always loved Tuesdays for a quick fabric foraging trip to the dump in Beacon because it was on those days that one of the textile companies in the area would unload a heaping pile of fabric scraps. Mom would watch the weather to make sure she got there before it rained. After laundering them, she would often bring her fabric treasure pieces to her Home Economics classes at Beacon High School for students in need of fabric for class sewing projects.
This was one particularly sunny Spring Tuesday that was a bit unusual though. You see, Mom was also the organist/choir director at our church and had a particular project in mind for the fabric she intended to search for that day. The church needed choir robes and table cloths. Some of us truly doubted she would find fabric enough for these projects since she usually was only able to come away with small pieces of gaberdine or bits of lightweight acrylic scarf material. She would typically have to carefully cut around the lot numbers at the ends of the rolls for them to be of any use. So, of course, Mom prayed for a good haul and then she went a step further and prayed specifically for a durable white fabric. She proceeded to round up several somewhat reluctant helpers. My older sibling and I were two of her recruits on this particular day. I wish I could remember who the student was. Whoever you are, if you are reading this and remember this story please step forward. Anyway, off we went like a herd of turtles for our dump diving expedition!
We arrived at the big crater of a dump and parked at the edge with Mom’s green Ford XL and descended on foot down the access road into the pit. We headed toward the center where the largest mounds of fresh, clean fabric were deposited. Soon after arriving at the heaps of fabric, we spotted something unusual and could not believe our eyes. There under the first layer of scraps was the fattest full ROLL of pure white heavy fabric! No denying this was an answer to prayer. We had never seen perfectly good full rolls of fabric discarded like this. Mom was absolutely thrilled and squealed with excitement! It would be perfect material for the choir robes and table cloths! We stared in wide-eyed amazement and joined in her rejoicing. Unfortunately, our shouts of delight were short lived and soon turned to groans as we tried our best to move/lift this humongous roll of fabric. We did not want to risk ruining it by rolling it along the ground. The four of us could not budge or lift it, let alone carry it what seemed to be easily half the length of a football field. Even if we could lift it, we would have to carry it up hill on the access road to where her car was parked since cars were not allowed down in the dump. This roll of fabric had to be at least five and a half feet long and two feet around. What were we to do? It was about this time I noticed a person at the far opposite end standing on the rim of the dump watching us struggle with the roll of fabric. He was easy to see because he was dressed in white. Before too long, he walked directly up to us. He was very, very handsome. My teenage self was smitten by his olive skin tones and pitch-black hair. He was not particularly tall, about my height. He looked to be about my age as well. I recall thinking he must have recently arrived from some exotic island somewhere since he never spoke a word and I suspected that perhaps he was not yet comfortable with speaking English. Then he did a remarkable thing as he simply bent over and hoisted that roll of fabric up and onto his shoulder in one easy, fluid motion. He then carried it the entire distance out of that dump, up that access road and straight to my mom’s car ALONE. He did not ask for help nor did he need it. He did not struggle or even seem to break a sweat. We got to Mom’s car and opened the trunk so he could set it down angling it sideways since it would not fit any other way. The four of us were preoccupied with adjusting it in the trunk and when we turned around to thank this handsome stranger, we found he was already gone. Oh, and did I mention he was dressed in dazzling white pants and shirt? Who does that…? goes to the dump wearing white clothes? Yep. True story. There was enough fabric to make at least a dozen table cloths and however many choir robes she needed. Mom sent me some of the left-over fabric years ago so I could make birthday flags for my boys. I still have the fabric, but never got around to making the flags since the boys disassembled my sewing machine quite permanently. I had good intentions though. Anyway, it’s not every day you have an encounter with an angel in a city dump. Who would ever believe that’s where one would show up? Expect the unexpected. Expect a miracle. I, for one, am not surprised that there was one keeping an eye on my Mom and looking out for her. So thankful for the memory.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Hebrews 13:2, KJV

Briyah Goss-Caldwell Posted at 12:20pm

Glory to God! That was a beautiful testimony of Mama Janet and her belief in the power of prayer. Thank you for sharing.

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