Jana Lynn Rogers O’Neil, known by all for her generous heart and loving spirit, died peacefully in her home surrounded by her family on Friday morning, May 14, 2021. Strangers would never have known she faced a twelve-year battle with breast cancer. To her family and friends, she endured her treatments with grace and humor.
Our Steel Magnolia was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on May 13, 1969, to the late Robert Lee Rogers and Janet Faulk Rogers and grew up in Griffin, Georgia, where she attended Griffin High School and later Agnes Scott College. Following graduation with a degree in Public Relations & Journalism from Auburn University in 1991, she moved to Washington, DC, to pursue a career in politics and public service, culminating as one of the National Fundraising Directors at Dole for President '96. In 1997, she decided to take on fundraising projects closer to her heart and became the Individual Gifts Director at Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Following her marriage in 1998 and move to Chicago in 1999, Jana worked as the Annual Fund Director at the Lincoln Park Zoo.
In 2003, the family moved to Lake Forest, IL, and Jana began her new calling as a full-time wife, mom and volunteer. She served as a board member of the Elawa Farm Foundation, member of the Lake Forest Garden Club, member of the Junior Leagues of Washington, DC and Chicago, and a devoted member of the Hanky Panky Book Club.
When diagnosed in early 2009, Jana decided she would get busy living, with determination and tenacity. Over the next twelve years, she packed-in a lifetime of travel, parties, get-togethers, and family adventures. She was a persevering force and refused to let cancer get in the way of her plans. She spent the last five years traveling to many of her favorite places in the U.S. and abroad. Over the last year, while most of America chose to stay home; Jana was on planes, at the beach, visiting the family cabin or making her voice heard at political rallies.
Jana’s passion was making things beautiful. She had a gift for design and organization and loved decorating, crafting, and planting. She especially took pleasure in sharing her many talents with others. There is not a holiday for which she didn’t have at least one bin of decorations. Or, if there is, her family is thankful she didn’t know about it because the storage space has long since been exhausted.
More than anything, Jana fiercely loved her family. Her favorite memories were of family dinners and vacations and the time spent with those she cherished at the beach or cabin. She is survived by her husband and soulmate of 23 years, Patrick John (P.J.) O’Neil, and her beloved children, Georgia Margaret O’Neil and Patrick John O’Neil, Jr., all of Lake Forest. Also surviving are her mother, Janet Faulk Rogers and sister, Rebecca Rogers Benincosa (Jason) of Griffin, GA, along with numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. She is preceded in death by her father, Robert Lee Rogers, cousin Anna Melissa Dorn, Uncle John Huey Faulk, and her maternal and paternal grandparents.
The family is grateful to her doctors and caregivers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in both Lake Forest and Chicago for their kindness to Jana and for giving her a wonderful quality of life until the end. The family would also like to thank the hospice team from Transitions as they helped make Jana comfortable in her final days.
A memorial service will be held at her favorite place in Lake Forest, Elawa Farm, on a date to be announced soon.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Elawa Farm Foundation (https://elawafarm.org/donate) in Jana’s name.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jana Lynn Rogers O'Neil, please visit our floral store.
Elawa Farm Foundation
1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest IL 60045