In Memoriam: Janai Symons

Janai Symons passed away in her sleep on April 21, 2023. She was survived by her husband, Larry and her children, Alex, Erik, Megan, Shane, Tennel and Brynna. She was predeceased by her son, Anthony.

Janai Symons

Janai worked at Western for over 20 years in a number of roles, for the last decade or so as a Research Compliance Officer in the Research and Sponsored Programs office. She began her career at Western while studying for her master’s degree in library science in 2001; she went on to teach courses in several areas, including Western Libraries, Fairhaven College, and in the Journalism department, including courses on gender discrimination law, legal research and writing, and election law. 

In her role as a research compliance officer, Janai assisted investigators with human and animal research, provided training to researchers, and presented guest lectures on research ethics in more than 15 departments. During this time, she assessed hundreds of research protocols. In this capacity, she was noted for her patience and desire to work for the best of everyone involved.  Janai retired in June of 2022.

Janai had degrees in Psychology (BA, Whitman), Law (JD, Willamette), and Librarianship (MLS, U. Washington). With this background, she was able to serve many roles during her years at Western. 

“Over a long career at Western, Janai was a caring and generous colleague who helped educate and guide countless students and researchers on ethically responsible research.  She made such a difference at Western and in her community.  We miss her greatly.” said David Patrick, WWU vice provost for Research and dean of the Graduate School.

Janai's husband, WWU Associate Professor of Psychology Larry Symons, said Janai had a love of books and was always happy to talk about her latest read. Her smile was infectious, and she made friends wherever she went.

The celebration of Janai's life will be held on Monday, May 1, at 4 p.m. at First Congregation Church in Bellingham at 2401 Cornwall Ave. Light refreshments will follow in the church hall. The family hopes to arrange a Facebook livestream.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Congregational Church Bellingham: Please select the “General Offering” option.