Janet Kay Bair-Rost (née Kesler), of Topeka, Kansas, passed away on the March 22, 2021, at the age of 85. Janet was born on June 3, 1935, to Ethel Hillyer Kesler and Henry Albert Warren (Hank) Kesler in Topeka. She graduated from Topeka High School with honors, and from University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1957 where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta social sorority.
Janet was devoted to the care and health of Children. At age 14, Janet was a founder and co-chairman of The Junior Hospital Association (JHA) whose purpose was to “improve Topeka’s Health Programs.” This was during the Polio Epidemic. The JHA’s helped raise over $75, 000 ($743,508 in 2021 dollars) which when joined with the matching federal grant provided Topeka with its first pediatric ward. The JHA received endorsements from Governor Frank Carlson and other local officials as well as a telegram from popular Bandleader, Radio, Movie and TV star, Kay Ksyer, and a feature article in the August 1949 issue of Seventeen magazine. The JHA’s actions lead ultimately to the merger of Jane C. Stormont, Women’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses and Christ’s Hospital (founded by Bishop Vail) into what is today’s Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center. As an adult, Janet loved being a nurse and the mother of eight children. Janet served as a board member and president of the Topeka Day Care Association helping to bring safe and affordable early care and education for children in Topeka.
Janet had a lifelong passion for Ballet, dancing through her youth and teens. She also helped establish dance in Topeka as both a board member and president of Dance Arts of Topeka which led to the establishment of three classical dance companies and three annual productions of the Nutcracker Ballet.
Janet loved traveling and learning about different cultures, she lived in London, UK and Mexico City, Mexico. After re-establishing a home in Topeka, she traveled to almost all the 50 states, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, and Russia to name a few. Her love of culture motivated her to work as Assistant Director of Volunteers for the, “Treasures of the Czar” Exhibit in 1995. The exhibit drew more than half a million people to Topeka and was staffed mainly by volunteers. In addition, Janet was a founding parishioner of the St. Augustine’s, Anglican Church, Topeka, KS, and a member of the Civic Music Club of Topeka.
Janet is survived by her children, Alicia Bair, M.D (Syracuse, NY), Thomas Bair [Jeanie(deceased)](Seattle WA), Andrea Bair (Topeka, KS), Gwendolyn (Wendy) Bair-Loehr [Rob], (Topeka, KS) and Gregory Bair [Marcella] (Kansas City, MO), Stepsons, Thomas Rost, II [Tami](Charleston, SC), F.J. Rost (Los Vegas, NV) Miles Rost [Adrienne] (Kansas City, KS) and fifteen Grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents, Hank and Ethel Kesler, her brother James Kesler, and her Sister Jean Kesler. Janet was married to Glenn Otis Bair, M.D (1959 – 1973), and Thomas Odell Rost (1980 – 1993).
A memorial service will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at Mount Hope Cemetery, 4700 SW 17th Street, Topeka, Kansas 66604. A reception will follow the service. The family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made to, Kansas Ballet Academy, The Topeka Symphony Orchestra, Brewster Place Employee Assistance Fund, and St. Augustine’s Anglican Church.
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