Jan Maas (Jeannetta Mae Welch) was born to Melinda and Elmer Welch. She is the youngest daughter of eight children. The oldest child, Eugene Huntington, was her half brother. "He was always a good brother to me," said Jan. Next was Delbert, then Clyde, Elmer, Clyde Jr., Ralph and Larry respectively. Her sisters are Emma Jane Grosskopf and Alita Pingel. Jan’s grandparents were Zeblon and Dora Welch and Oscar Williams and Angeline Bowers.
When Jan was a little girl, she went everywhere with her dad. Harry Shepard, Bill Moon and her dad were pals; they would always take Jan for ice cream cones. "One time in particular, (I believe I was six years old) my dad and I went to Sturgeon Bay with Harry to pick cherries. When we left Gresham, we took a milk pail full of fresh eggs because I was going to be the cook. On Monday morning, they went out into the orchards and came back to find that I had already fried up half of the eggs with four more days of our stay to go. I don’t remember ever going back to the orchards with them."
Another fond memory Jan speaks of is when her dad used to take them to school with the horse and buggy. She said one time after he dropped them off at school, he went into the store and when he came out the horse had gone home without him. "Dad had to walk home that day," Jan said as she chuckled.
Jan said she spent most of her younger years growing up in Morgan Siding and attending Morgan Siding Grade School for all eight grades. She then went to Gresham High School for three years. When Jan was 17, she went to a baseball game with her dad and that is where she met her husband. At the age of 18, she married Melvin H. Maas. They were married in Oneida, Wisconsin.
For the first 16 years of their marriage, Melvin and Jan lived in Gresham. Together they raised four children. Sandra, Melvin Jr., David and Mannie. Melvin worked as a logger on the Menominee Reservation until 1971 when he was injured in the woods. "Then it was time for mom to go to work," Jan exclaimed.
She finished high school and received her GED. Then she went to U.W. Milwaukee and got a degree in Early Childhood. When Jan returned to Gresham, she started working as a Head Start Aid in Bowler and Wittenberg. After three years she went back to school in the Shawano area and got her Certified Nurse’s Aid certificate. Jan worked in the Shawano area as a nurse’s aid at Maple Lane and Evergreen Nursing home for 10 years.
Jan and her family moved to Seymour. She worked at Good Shepherd Home for seven years. Then she started working at the Outagamie County Health Center (which is now known as Brewster Village). In 1996, Jan moved to Appleton to be closer to work. There she spent many years as the Vice President of the local 960 Union and then later became president of that same Union. She really enjoyed going to the Union Meetings and it was during this time that Jan realized how much she loves politics and working closely with Management. Closing her career, she spent three years on the Executive Board of the Union.
Jan spent a lot of time not only working as a nurse’s aid, but also helping her youngest son at the bar he owned in Oneida. He would run the bar and Jan would do a lot of the cleaning and cooking. She also planned and cooked for a lot of weddings and motorcycle parties at the bar
Jan retired due her husband’s health. Now she’s a nurse at home, but enjoys doing a lot of traveling around to places that she and Melvin have wanted to go for years. This year, Jan went to Mackinac Island, Chicago, and Gurney Illinois. "And we’re planning a trip to the Twin Cities yet this year," she said.
Jan said she enjoys doing a lot of family research with the help of her youngest son, Mannie. In addition, she hosts a family reunion every year in Shawano for the Welch and Williams families.
Another one of her favorite things is camping and spending time with her grandchildren Thomas and Corey, sons of Melvin Jr. and Linda (Hefflinger) Maas of Shawano. She also spends a lot of time going places with her youngest son, Mannie, and his wife Christina (Sheldon) Maas of Tigerton. "I spend every day with my other son David and my daughter Sandra because they both still live at home. After all that we have done in our lives, it is still hard to believe that Melvin and I have will been married for 50 years next June," said Jan.
She said she is looking forward to moving onto the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation and spending a lot of time with her brothers, sister and cousins.
The advice Jan gives to the youth of this community is to "stay in school and get a good education while you are young."