Thank you family and friends for being here this afternoon so we can share our thoughts on the life of my brother Greg.
I’d like to do this in three phases.
The first phase is his childhood years.
Greg was born the third son of Bill and Anne Janton on September 16, 1953. He joined Mark and Chris in their home in Clarkston, Michigan. Renee joined the family a year later. They moved to Ramsey, New Jersey where Annette and I came along. Then to Wood-Ridge where Maura joined us. Greg was a fairly typical kid, bowling on Friday, a member of the boy scouts, and a band member in the Wood-Ridge High School Blue Devils marching band, but then, when your dad is the band director, that was a logical thing to do. He and I shared the same half of the room on 14th street, the same bunk bed. As usual, we didn’t always get along, but he was always my big brother.
We had fun trips as a family then, the shore, Little Wolf Lake, St Lawrence Seaway, Washington DC. All of us packed into one of many station wagons that we had. In the summer of 1970, we left New Jersey in one of those station wagons, a grey Polara, on a fun-filled and tortuous trip across the country to Arizona. There was a lot of sight-seeing, but some long days on the road. We left Mark and Chris behind, Mark was married to Kathy and Dawn was already here. Chris stayed to go to college.
We landed in Tucson, Greg and Renee went to Tucson High, and they marched in the Badger Band. He worked at Sandy’s on Park Ave. Greg graduated from Tucson High in 1971.
Here we enter the second phase of my recollection of Greg’s life. After Greg graduated from high school, the family moved to San Manuel. He worked several jobs during the years following high school. Eventually going to work for Magma Copper as a tapper helper, then a tapper, then what I thought was his best mining job, an overhead crane operator. Greg signed on as the shop steward for the Steelworkers at San Manuel. I learned a lot about labor unions from him. Since he was sometimes living in our house, even bringing his friend Paul to live there for a while, there were still times that I didn’t much like him, but he was always my big brother.
He had some pretty cool cars in those years. A 55 Chevy wagon that I helped him work on, a 55 Chrysler that I helped him dismantle to turn into a sand buggy, well almost; a white 62 Plymouth Valiant that had one of those really long CB antennas that usually went on the rear fender, mounted right in the middle of the roof. And my favorite, his brown 72 Chevy Nova. Greg was a hot rod, and a street racer. We were always looking at Mickey Thompson tires and American Racing or Cragar wheels for his cars. We even ran his Nova at Tucson Dragway. He got hooked on the CB craze like a lot of people did then. His handle was the smokestack.
Greg either got tired of the mines or just got tired, either way he went to live in Clarkdale, and became a doughnut cook in a small café in nearby Cottonwood. I went to visit him several times; he and I explored Jerome together. My senior year in school, Greg enlisted in the Air Force. I remember this well. He left his 1972 Honda CB350 motorcycle with me for safekeeping. I used that bike for most of my senior year. He wanted me to take the bike to him at Keesler AFB in Mississippi, but I wasn’t up to driving it that far so that didn’t happen. I did eventually go to visit while he was stationed at Buckley Field in Aurora, Colorado. He ended his Air Force tour at Luke AFB in Phoenix. While he was stationed at Luke, I was going through the highway patrol academy. I lived with him for a month after the basic training program was complete. Greg and I fell out of touch after I moved to Bowie.
This is the third phase of my impression of Greg’s life.
I know he moved to New Jersey and hooked up with Mark & Kathy. He signed on with the Boonton Fire Dept and the Kiwanis ambulance service. I know he was seriously ill, but with the help and love from family and friends in New Jersey, he got well. He eventually went to work at the New Jersey Fireman’s Home in Boonton, which is where he met Christine. They were married and came back to Tucson for a short while. I remember sitting with Greg at the Famous Sam’s on Pima Street while Christine was in labor across the street. Alexandra came along and Greg became a Dad. I know there is no other feeling like becoming a dad. The following year they returned to New Jersey and Roxanne joined their family. A little more than a year later, Jessica came along.
During the time that Greg and I were spending time together, there was one overriding idea that kept coming up. I don’t know if it was from the CB influence or where it came from, but he would always talk about being an over the road trucker. We’d go to the semi dealerships and walk around all the new rigs. We’d go grab a bite to eat at the truck stops and visit with the drivers. Well, Greg finally signed on as a commercial truck driver. He’d call from all over the country, hauling any manner of freight. A few years back the family moved back to Arizona, spent a little time in Sierra Vista, but came back to Tucson. Greg would call me and ask if he could park his rig at the office where I worked. I usually got ribbed about it at work, but he’d park his rig and I’d give him a ride to the house. We talked a lot over the last couple of years. I’m going to miss those calls. I’m going to miss my big brother.