February 16, 1953 – July 13, 2022
Janet Berk-Johnson of Brighton, Michigan, passed away on July 13, at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor at the age of 69.
Janet was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Irv and Judy Berk, and moved to East Lansing, Michigan, with her family when she was 16. She earned her bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a K-12 teaching certificate from Eastern Michigan University, where she met her husband, Kent Johnson. They married on May 30, 1976, in Lansing. She is survived by her husband Kent and her brother Ben Berk of Fair Hill Maryland plus many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Her parents preceded her in death.
After graduating college, Janet taught art in the Ann Arbor area school system before pursuing a career in real estate. She became a licensed broker and quickly built a successful career in residential home sales before starting her own real estate appraisal company, Appraisals, Inc., which she operated for more than 30 years. Janet earned a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness throughout the community. In fact, the local attorneys and judges requested her expertise in a variety of cases.
Throughout her life, Janet was a progressive thinker. At the time of her marriage to Kent, she was among a very small minority of women who hyphenated their last names (despite the challenges of getting traditional institutions to record her name correctly in this pre-computer age). Refusing to be intimidated by a male-dominated network of appraisers, Janet was one of the first women to receive approval from the Veterans Administration to do residential appraisals, eventually becoming one of the VA office’s most valued resources.
Janet developed a keen interest in antiques, especially in vintage pottery and Currier and Ives prints. She loved attending auctions and estate sales, where she would buy just about every weird item a person could imagine. A businesswoman at heart with a willingness to try anything, she had booths in many antique stores in the Brighton area, participated in antique shows, started an estate sale company, operated an eBay listing of thousands of items and ran a pop-up antique store. She mentored many individuals in real estate and brokerage, including a young woman who became her dearest friend and now owns her own successful appraisal business.
Smart with a great sense of humor and capable of doing anything she chose, Janet lived an adventurous and fearless life, and improved every person’s life she touched. She always gave and never took. Even when she learned she had less than a year to live, she bravely accepted her fate and worried about loved ones and how they would manage without her.
She loved so many things: Auctions, pens, pottery, artwork, hot dogs and dogs — especially dogs. Her grave marker bears the inscription: ”There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who love dogs and those who don’t.” Most importantly, she loved her husband. Anyone who knew her also knew that he was the support and love of her life. She was forever thankful for him and highly valued their marriage all the days of her life.
Taken too soon and loved by so many.
She will be laid to rest at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 19, in the Evergreen Cemetery, 2600 E. Mt. Hope Ave., Lansing, MI 48910. There will be a graveside service only.
For those who wish to make a charitable donation in her name, please consider Detroit Dog Rescue, a highly respected and well-managed dog rescue organization. Please — no flowers.