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Janes was as affable as they come

Mark Janes didn't have an enemy in the world. Well, maybe one set of parents. Janes was president of his 1965 class at Rochester John Marshall, and it was his duty to read all the names of the graduates as they marched across the stage to receive...

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Mark Janes, who died Saturday, was the "commish" of the Mark Janes Developmental Hockey League. The "C" on his jersey stands for "commish."
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Mark Janes didn't have an enemy in the world.

Well, maybe one set of parents.

Janes was president of his 1965 class at Rochester John Marshall, and it was his duty to read all the names of the graduates as they marched across the stage to receive their diplomas. There were a lot of names, too, over 700.

Apparently during the graduation ceremony, Mark Janes called one graduate Patricia, and it should have been Patrick.

"After that, I figure that the guy's parents were the only ones never to have liked Mark,'' said Peter Janes, Mark's younger brother.

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"I can't think of anyone else. I actually asked him one day if he had any enemies and he just shook his head no. And ask anybody who knew Mark and they'll tell you the same thing. That's pretty remarkable. He was as nice as they come.''

Mark Janes died Saturday of multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks the plasma system.

He was 66.

"Mark got all the optimism genes in our family,'' said his brother. "Older siblings often times can be mean to the younger ones but that wasn't the case with Mark.

"He always let me play with his group of friends. All his life, Mark was upbeat and optimistic and to be honest with you, I don't know how he did it.''

A hockey name

The Janes name is synonymous with hockey in Rochester. Joe Janes was instrumental in starting the Rochester Juvenile Hockey Association in 1953, and he served as chairman of the board and team physician with the Rochester Mustangs in the '60s and '70s.

Mark continued that hockey legacy, first as general manager of the Mustangs during their heyday — they won three straight USHL Junior A championships — and then as head coach at Lourdes and at Rochester Community College.

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"He had his hands in many different things,'' said Peter, "but hockey was his first love.''

If you're talking about lifelong friends, that would be Pete Hoffman. He's known Mark for over 60 years.

"We grew up within blocks of each other on the southwest part of the city,'' Hoffman said. "I can remember walking home from elementary school (Edison) with Mark and then we graduated together at JM.''

Hoffman and Janes also attended and played hockey at Division II Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Generally, they skated on the same line and were fraternity brothers as well.

Eventually, both Hoffman and Janes made it back to Rochester. Hoffman retired as a veterinarian while Mark enjoyed a 40-plus career with the IDS/American Express/Ameriprise Company.

Mark was a member of the Rochester Park Board for eight years and was heavily involved in youth sports programs, primarily hockey.

It was while skating in January, when Janes broke his elbow and after that, his health started to deteriorate. He had five surgeries but the cancer proved to be relentless.

He died on Dec. 7 and perhaps that was an omen; Mark wore the number 7 in college.

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"We were blessed to have spent the last couple of weeks with him,'' said Pete Janes. "Mark and Mary celebrated their 43rd anniversary (Dec. 5) and we also had Thanksgiving.

"Every day we would read notes from his friends who had posted on his Caring Bridge website.''

And Mark got a chance to hold his only grandchild, Natalia Rae, who was born on Sept. 25. Mark's daughter Erin and her husband Brandon live in Colorado.

Hockey league for old timers

In 2006 Mark Janes started the Old Timers Hockey League.

"I wanted to give older players a chance to compete against skaters their own age,'' he said at the time.

The league began with 18 skaters on Thursday nights at the Recreation Center and now has mushroomed to some 60 skaters, playing on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Last April the league was renamed as the Mark Janes Developmental Hockey League (mjdhl.org).

Those players are expected to wear their league jerseys at Janes' funeral, which will be held Thursday morning at First Presbyterian Church.

Hoffman will give one of four eulogies.

In a strange twist, 30 years ago, Hoffman's father offered the eulogy for Joe Janes at his funeral.

"It's the same church and I will be speaking at the same spot where my father was that day,'' said Hoffman. "It probably wasn't easy for my father and I expect it won't be easy for me, either.''

Related Topics: HOCKEY
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