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A Sarnia Valentine to Janis Moore

Phil Egan's picture
Mon, 02/04/2019 - 08:44 -- Phil Egan

She is truly one of those women with whom you are instantly enamoured.

I loved Janis Moore from the first day I met her – and Lord knows, I’m not alone.

I’m in the good company of thousands of citizens of Lambton County who’ve had occasion, over more than four decades, to visit the office of the Mayor of Sarnia. Their first welcome to that office was always delivered, with warmth, professional respect and a generous, friendly spirit by the woman that Sarnia has come to know as “Deputy Mayor” Janis.

“This is the lady who looks after our mayors,” Mike Bradley was told in 1989, meeting Janis Moore after winning his first term in the chief magistrate’s chair.

It’s true. For 45 of her 46 years at Sarnia’s city hall, Janis Moore has served her community as executive assistant to four of Sarnia’s top leaders, beginning when Andy Brandt hired her in that position from the clerk’s office.

Janis doesn’t look like she’s 46 years old, let alone being old enough to have been in her job for 46 years. I asked her once whether Brandt had ever got into trouble for hiring a child. She was certainly young on that first day at city hall, and she remembers how nervous she was as she rode the bus to her new job in July of 1973.

Today, there is likely no on e in the city whose experience affords them a better understanding of the inner workings of municipal government in Sarnia. Her service has been lauded and appreciated by every mayor she has served.

Andy Brandt was known to have asked Janis to join his office in Toronto when, in 1981, Brandt was elected to the Ontario legislature in Premier Bill Davis’ majority Tory government. Fortunately for Sarnia, Janis declined.

We’ll never know whether Brandt might have had more luck luring Janis to Toronto had her beloved Toronto Blue Jays not been suffering the usual woeful losing seasons typical of most expansion teams.

Janis – for those who aren’t aware – is a True Believer. Sarnia This Week once described her as “Sarnia’s Number One Sports Fan.”  In 1991, sportswriter Terry Doran wrote a column referring to Janis as a “champion” – citing her “enthusiasm for both sports and people.” Terry had just met Janis before writing his column, but he had fallen in love with her too.

Doran acknowledged being startled by the depth of Janis’ sports knowledge. She knew even arcane football trivia, such as the fact that QB Joe Theisman had gone so far as to change the pronunciation of his last name to make it rhyme with “Heisman” – the trophy awarded to college football’s top star (as in, “Theisman for the Heisman.”)

Janis follows the fortunes (or lack thereof) of her two favourite teams; the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sher clings to a confidence in their inevitable triumphs with unshakeable confidence. I’ve been told that she and former police chief, Phil Nelson, have even discussed the best spots in Toronto to stake out for their World Series and Stanley Cup victory parades.

Born in Sarnia, Janis graduated from Northern Collegiate and Lambton College. Her love of baseball likely came from her Dad, Bruce Moore, a well-known Sarnia baseball star. Her mother, Phyllis, who often accompanied Janis to Blue Jay home openers until her passing in 2016, was an avid golfer and sports fan as well. A line in her obituary said that she told her doctor that she suffered from high blood pressure only when the Jays had three men on base.

I had a chance to work with Janis during m research for my book chronicling the history of Sarnia Fire Rescue. Despite her own heavy workload for Mayor Mike, Janis often stayed behind after hours to lend a helpful hand to me and to my fellow researchers.

During my forty years in business in Toronto, I was fortunate enough to work with an executive assistant who met the gold standard in professionalism – particularly in the rare art of dealing with difficult people.

That calibre of excellence is hard to find. I was lucky to be able to benefit from it. So was Andy Brandt, Marceil Saddy, Ron Gordon – and now, Mike Bradley.

With Janis Moore, so too are the people of this great city.


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