Janet Goeltz Platzer, 102, died peacefully in her sleep in her apartment at Grand Oaks, in Washington, DC, on February 3, 2019. Born on April 11, 1916, in New York City to William and Lillian (Timke) Goeltz and raised in Caldwell, NJ, Jan was the youngest of five siblings, all of whom pre-deceased her.
Jan met her future husband, Richard France Platzer (1914-1993), at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, NY, where she majored in Bio-Chem and he studied for his medical degree. Following graduation in 1937, Jan lived at home, in Caldwell, NJ, and worked as a lab tech at St. Barnabas Hospital in Newark, NJ. Jan and Dick resumed dating when he interned at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and visited the Goeltz home to eat well as often as possible.
When Dick took a position at the hospital for the personnel of the American naval base on Trinidad, in the West Indies, he asked if Jan would join him if he secured her a job. She agreed but, not expecting to hear from him again, was surprised, months later, by a cable offering her a position on the base to study malaria. She packed a trunk and traveled by ship with her mother to Trinidad. Jan and Dick married the next afternoon, September 11, 1941, at All Saints Anglican Church, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Later that day, they saw Mrs. Goeltz off at the pier for her return to New York, and Jan began work the next day. A week later, Jan and Dick honeymooned briefly on Tobago. They lived, worked, and enjoyed their life and friends on Trinidad for two years.
Following World War II, Jan and Dick settled in Clifton Springs, NY, to raise their two children. Dick practiced medicine at the Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic, and Jan busily volunteered for her church, scouts, and the hospital. Summers were happily spent at their summer home on Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. Traveling when possible in Europe in the 1950s and 60s, Jan and Dick also explored the islands of the Caribbean and, in 1958, were the first Americans to purchase land on Nevis, in the Leeward Islands.
From the 1970s until Dick's death in 1993, Jan and Dick spent nine months of the year on Nevis and three on Keuka Lake. On Nevis, Dick practiced medicine, primarily doing clinic work around the island, and Jan established a lab at the Alexandra Hospital, in Charlestown, with donated equipment, and trained local women in lab techniques. Both received tributes from the Alexandra Hospital for their many contributions. For many years, they had a busy social life, were welcoming hosts to their many friends, and served as active volunteers at the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society, the hospital, and local charities. They swam daily, hiked, and maintained their own Swiss Family Robinson-style home at Banyan Tree at Morningstar Estate, growing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
Following the death of her husband, Jan sold Banyan Tree and purchased a smaller property, where she continued to entertain and maintain her volunteer activities. Summers were spent with family on Keuka Lake. By 2000, Jan decided to move to the Jefferson, in Arlington, VA, to be near her daughter and son-in-law. She embraced their friends and was integral to their lives in Washington, DC, as she was to the lives of her son and his family in New York State. Jan lived at the Jefferson in Arlington, VA, for 17 years, making new friends, keeping active, and traveling. At 101, she moved to Grand Oaks Assisted Living in Washington, DC, where she continued to be engaged and make new friends.
Loved by all who knew her, Jan is survived by her son William Richard Platzer MD, his wife Sharon, grandsons Eric and Adam, Adam's wife Moira, and great grand-daughters Lilly and Rory, as well as her daughter Eryl Platzer Wentworth and son-in-law Bruce Joseph Wentworth. She will forever remain in our hearts and memories. Our thanks to Jan's aides at the Jefferson and all the staff at Grand Oaks.
No memorial service has been planned; celebrations of her life will continue. Those with connections to Nevis are welcome to donate in Jan's name to the Nevis Alexandra Hospital or the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society. Donations in Jan's name can also be made to FAIC at www.conservation-us.org/donate.