The following is being posted at the request of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Cathryn Cofell. The Council for Wisconsin Writers extends condolences to Janet Cloak’s family.
Dear Fellow Lawrentians,
It is with sadness I share the news of the passing of Janet Wullner Faiss Cloak, wife of the late Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts Theodore “Ted” Cloak. A 1955 Lawrence graduate, Janet died Wednesday, Aug. 9 at her home. She was 84.
A theatre and drama major at Lawrence, Janet won a national competition to study scenic design with Mordecai Gorelik in New York, where she also studied acting, oral interpretation and dance. Early in her career, Janet worked for book publisher McGraw-Hill and later George Wittenborn, Inc., which specialized in publishing books on the fine arts. After growing tired of “the smell of the greasepaint,” Janet embarked on a cross-country road trip, selling art books to libraries along the way. After arriving in California, she joined the Palm Springs Museum as assistant director.
Born in Manitowoc, Janet grew up in the Milwaukee suburban of Whitefish Bay, but spent much of her adult life living in California. It was there she met and married German-American artist Fritz Faiss and they made their home in Valencia Hills. After Fritz’ death, she returned to Wisconsin and eventually married Ted Cloak, who died in 1998.Gracious and thoughtful, Janet was a gentle soul who loved books, museums and art, and was an accomplished painter in her own right. Some of her work has been exhibited at Appleton’s Trout Museum of Art and Lawrence’s Wriston Art Center Galleries permanent collection is home to several pieces she donated over the years. She also wrote poetry and occasionally read her work at The Draw and Atlas Coffee Mill.
She often attended Lawrence theatre productions and supported Lawrence’s classical music performances with her attendance. She was especially proud of her participation as a member of the Academy of Music’s community Balinese gamelan ensemble Gamelan Sekar Kemuda. An ardent environmentalist much of her life, during her time in Appleton Janet maintained a sanctuary for wildlife at her ravine-side home, which was within walking distance of the Lawrence campus.
She served four years (2005-2008) on the Lawrence University Alumni Association board and remained engaged with numerous other civic organizations. She served as secretary of the board of the Outagamie County Historical Society and completed a website collaboration with the Appleton Public Library. She also was a member of the Town and Gown Book Club, served as secretary of the local branch of Torch International and was a three-term president of the AAW Investment Club.
Information regarding a service for Janet is still pending. Please watch the Post-Crescent for those details.
Mark Breseman ’78
Associate Vice President of Alumni and Constituency Engagement