Obituary: Janice H. Miknevich / Looked to improve herself, sought out adventure

Jan. 25, 1947 - Oct. 2, 2013

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When Janice H. Miknevich felt a strong conviction, almost nothing could stop her. But she never said a cross word to anyone, recalled her husband, and more often than not, those strong convictions focused on embracing her life and all the people in it.

"She was a strong person and she was a person who loved life," said husband Joseph P. Miknevich of Findlay. "She always looked on the best side of people, she always believed the best of people."

Mrs. Miknevich died Wednesday of complications from metastatic breast cancer. She was 66.

Born in Pittsburgh on Jan. 25, 1947, Mrs. Miknevich was the daughter of Clinton and Olga Mae (McKissock) Seely. She grew up in the Brookline area and graduated from South Hills High School in 1965, after which she went to work first as a hostess at a local country club and then for the Columbia Gas Co.

From there, Mrs. Miknevich went to work as a secretary for Calgon Corp., where she met her chemist husband in 1980 and where she worked for 21 years.

To qualify for that job, one of the requirements was to type at least 40 words per minute, but at the time Mrs. Miknevich couldn't afford a typewriter to practice. So she laid out little slips of paper -- each written with a letter, number or symbol -- in the shape of a typewriter's keytop on her ironing board, and practiced for two days like that.

"She came in and typed 42 words a minute and the guy said, 'That's not real fast,' and she said, 'Yeah, but there are no mistakes,'" Mr. Miknevich said. "There weren't, and she got the job."

At Calgon, she and the other secretaries were struggling along with electric typewriters and Mrs. Miknevich suggested that the company switch to word processors, which she believed would be a faster and more efficient way of producing and organizing documents.

But the IT department officials informed her that wasn't an accepted practice at the company.

"She ended up putting together a 30-page document explaining pros and cons and how it would pay for itself, and the company relented," Mr. Miknevich said.

In an effort to improve her skills, Mrs. Miknevich went back to school in 1992 for her bachelor of arts degree in accounting, working full-time during the day and attending Robert Morris University at night. The degree, which she earned in 1996, proved useful when Calgon closed in 2000 and she was able to land a job at Bayer Corp., ultimately becoming the company's manager of fixed asset accounting.

During those years, Mrs. Miknevich also worked hard to raise her son from a previous marriage, Daniel T. Gynn, and enjoyed many nature-filled trips at home and abroad with her husband, including many bicycle trips along the region's bike trails.

Nearly every weekend was planned around a combination biking and fishing trip along trails and streams all over Pennsylvania with her husband and often with her oldest friend, Eileen Merlina of Findlay. After years of talking about biking to Washington, D.C., along the Great Allegheny Passage, the high school friends settled on 2010 -- their 50th year of friendship -- as the year for their grand adventure.

Mrs. Miknevich was often the instigator of such grand plans.

"She was adventurous," Mr. Miknevich said. "She was always dragging me into things I didn't want to do. ... She taught me the value of hugs and holding hands and long walks."

Diagnosed with cancer after a mammogram and biopsy in 2011, Mrs. Miknevich fought hard to live and until a few weeks ago, was convinced she would beat the odds despite the disease's quick spread to her liver within a few months of her initial diagnosis. A member of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Moon, she had a deep faith that helped give her strength, her husband said.

And when she showed up at a hospital, or a pharmacy or the cancer center, she had a warm smile for everyone, and everyone returned it.

"The nurses loved her because she had such a positive attitude," Mr. Miknevich said. "She was such a fighter -- she was a very special lady."

Mrs. Miknevich is survived by her husband, son and three brothers, Wayne Seeley of Ithaca, N.Y.; Clinton Seeley of Gravois Mills, Mo.; and Gary Seeley of Cottonwood, Calif. Friends will be received at Copeland's Funeral Home in Moon at 981 Brodhead Road today from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m., with prayer on Monday at 9:15 a.m. followed by a funeral service at St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 987 Beaver Grade Road in Moon at 10 a.m. Burial will follow in Sewickley Cemetery.

The family welcomes floral tributes, but donations also can be made in Mrs. Miknevich's name to Susan G. Komen, a foundation for breast cancer research, at komenpittsburgh.org or 1133 S. Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh 15218 or Montour Trail Council at montourtrail.org or 304 Hickman St., Suite #3, Bridgeville, PA 15017.

obituaries

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: 412-263-1719 or aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com.


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