Remembering Janet Smith

Longtime residents of Chadds Ford Township lost a friend the other day when Janet Smith, a 38-year employee at the Sunoco station on Route 1 and Station Way Road died Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Janet Smith

She worked at the station for eight years with former owner Pete Ochmanowicz, then with new owner Jim Leader for another 30 years before she retired late in 2015. In an interview before she retired, Smith said the best part of her job was getting to know everyone.

“It’s been a home away from home. I have enjoyed it and I will miss it,” she said in the interview. “You meet so many different people, and they depend on you being here.”

According to Jim Leader, it was always difficult to get Smith to take a day off and, even when she did take one, she still wanted to open up so the rest of the employees would get off to a good start.

“Janet was a most caring person,” Leader said. There was nobody she didn’t get along with. She made this business more than a business, she made it part of the community. She was an integral part of making us a success.”

Lou D’Iorio, who lives on Webb Road, said he feels as if he lost an old friend

“I knew her from day one. Janet was the nicest lady you’d ever want to meet. The whole township liked her. She always had a smile, even in the face of adversity,” D’Iorio said.

Barbara Moore, of Barbara Moore Fine Art and director of the former Chadds Ford Gallery, called Smith a “dear, and caring person” who always took time to help others even when she was busy.

Moore was also touched by a phone call she received from Smith shortly before her death.

“She called to say she wasn’t doing well. I think she was calling to say goodbye,” Moore said. “It was such a kind thing to do.”

Pat Wells knew Smith for 40 years and was impressed when Smith, as a single mother with eight young children 40 years ago, would handle work at the station while taking care of her children alone.

“I called Janet the mayor of Chadds Ford. She was always cheerful, kind and funny, no matter the situation. She was a Chadds Ford institution,” Wells said.

Ron Coates, who first came to know Smith when he began working at the U.S. Post Office in Chadds Ford, summed it up succinctly.

“She was like family. She always made you feel at home.”


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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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