2013 Citizen of the Year: Janis M. Cross

2013 OHD Citizen of the Year Janis Cross


 by Nancy P. McGinnis

The Old Hallowell Day Committee is delighted to announce that Janis Cross has been selected as the 2013 Old Hallowell Day Citizen of the Year.  “Janis has served for many years in many capacities, and has always given to her community with generosity of spirit and kindness,” says Jane Orbeton, Old Hallowell Day Chair.  Cross was born and raised here, living with her parents and two brothers in a lovely old Victorian home on the site where the Sacred Heart Parish Hall now stands. After graduating from Hallowell High School in 1948, Cross’ pursuit of further education and career goals took her far away at times, but over the years Hallowell has always been “home”.

Following a year at the New England Conservatory of Music, Cross earned her B.S. at Farmington State Teachers College, (now the University of Maine at Farmington). She eventually pursued her Masters at Cornell University, and that led to a position in Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture as a Family Economist. Later, Cross spent a year on Capitol Hill as an assistant to Maryland Congressman Charles Mathias, Jr.

Cross returned to her beloved home state, where she married Kenneth Cross and later accepted a position that was to span nearly three decades, as a state supervisor for Consumer and Home Economics Education for the Maine Department of Education. She also began contributing her time and talent to local organizations and initiatives– and she hasn’t stopped since.

For a time Cross chaired the Hallowell Improvement Association, the local group that decades ago organized the forerunner of today’s Old Hallowell Day. Always appreciative of local history, and a prominent member of the Mayflower Society and the DAR, Cross was pleased to chair the restoration of the 1968 photo album of “The Architecture of Hallowell, Maine”. As a longtime member, treasurer and board member of Row House, the local historic preservation committee, Cross was also actively involved in the restoration of Hallowell City Hall which was completed in 1998.

Cross is also pleased that this year Old Hallowell Day is paying tribute to Hallowell’s heritage as the “Granite City”. As a member of Hallowell’s Waterfront Advisory Committee, she helped guide the completion of the bulkhead and boardwalk and the beginning of the Waterfront Park, where plans are underway to exhibit the last known wooden granite crane from the Hallowell quarries in a permanent, landscaped installation. She has volunteered on the American Legion Goodrich-Caldwell Post 6 Hallowell Veterans Monument committee, as well.  Just last year, she was an active member of the Planning Committee that organized Hallowell’s 250th anniversary celebration.

She served as trustee and chairperson of the Hallowell Water District; the first Stevens School Committee; and as a trustee and on the Diaconate of the Old South Congregational Church as well as the Friends of the Hubbard Free Library. She has also volunteered for many years in the office of Senator Susan Collins.  An avid gardener, Cross has helped with planting and caring for the flowers at the granite sign gracing the entrance to the City, on upper Water Street.

It would be hard to find a more “local” citizen than Janis Cross: her family lineage includes Deacon Pease Clark, the first settler of Hallowell; Martha Ballard, the legendary local midwife; Eliza Clark Lowell, who generously underwrote the 1897 addition of the ‘Lowell Museum’ (now the children’s room) of the Hubbard Free Library, as well as the construction of Hallowell City Hall the following year; and Maria Clark, Eliza’s sister, for whom the school on Middle Street (now condominiums) was named.

On Old Hallowell Day, Janis Cross has enjoyed watching the parade, helping out at the Library book sale, the Row House booth, and the legendary strawberry shortcake lunch fundraiser at the Legion Hall.  Most of all, she loves how “it never fails to bring the whole community together. Hallowell’s citizens and former residents all look forward to the big, happy reunion on Old Hallowell Day!”


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