Janice Freeman Roback, 79, died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Sept. 30, 2020, in Ocala, Fla.
She was the vibrant, loving center of her family. A lifelong educator, she was born in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta.
When she was a student at Grady High School in Atlanta, “To Kill a Mockingbird” opened her eyes to the plight of African Americans in the South. She lobbied ferociously for African-American children to be included in the gifted program at the school where she taught in Oxford, Miss. She bought shoes for children who came to school barefoot in Sopchoppy, Fla.
She taught fourth grade in the Watts schools during the Watts riots.
Janice was born on July 20, 1941, in Atlanta. The third of five sisters, she twirled at football games for Grady High School and Georgia Tech. She attended Florida State University on a scholarship where she was the first Garnet Girl solo twirler in the FSU Marching Band. She and her husband, the late Tom Roback, remained avid fans of the FSU Seminoles throughout their lives.
Janice and Tom settled in Blacksburg where Janice earned a graduate degree from Virginia Tech. She was a beloved teacher and principal, dedicating most of her career to the students of the Montgomery County school system. She retired in Ocala and found a loving place within the ballroom dancing community there with her dedicated partner, Richard Accomando.
She traveled the world and enjoyed running, hiking, kayaking and dancing. She also served on the board of the Oak Run Democratic Club.
A beloved mother, grandmother, sister and friend, Janice will be remembered for her warmth, joyful spirit and curiosity. She touched countless lives through her career as an educator spanning four states. She shared her love of teaching, reading and writing and nature with her children, grandchildren and students.
She is survived by four children, Valerie Roback of St. Augustine, Fla., Tom Roback of Baltimore, Stephanie Roback of Richmond, and Catherine Roback, of Bangkok, Thailand; their spouses; and seven beloved grandchildren, Aaron, Abby, Ben, Matthew, Lucy, Tommy and Catie. She is also survived by two sisters, Carol Hamric of Pine Mountain, Ga., and Nancy Shealy of Cantonment, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to communitiesandschools.org.