Nov. 11, 1955 – Jan. 28, 2013

To Janel McKinny, everything about being a teacher was special.

As a special-education teacher for Orleans-Niagara BOCES, she worked with younger special-needs children. And she would often tell people how much she enjoyed the special relationships she built with her students.

Due to illness, Mrs. McKinny retired from her job in 2011, after 30 years. She died in her North Tonawanda home Monday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 57.

“She really enjoyed working with those kids. It meant a lot to her,” recalled her husband of 34 years, Gerald. “Just last week, she got a call from the mother of a former student. The woman lives out of state now, and she called Janel to let her know that her son would always tell her Mrs. McKinny was the favorite teacher he ever had.”

Highly respected by her co-workers, the former Janel Mical was a graduate of North Tonawanda High School and Buffalo State College, where she earned a master’s degree in special education. Over the years, she worked at schools in Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, Sanborn and other locations in Niagara County.

She was an active volunteer at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church in North Tonawanda, where she served as a lector, and she also organized many craft shows to raise money for Catholic education in North Tonawanda.

Mrs. McKinny loved cross-country skiing, attending craft shows or visiting wineries with friends, traveling, and doting on her granddaughter, Sophie.

After her diagnosis more than three years ago, she was determined to enjoy as many trips as possible with friends and family members, including her husband; her two sons, Peter and Mark; her sister, Melanie, and her brother, Kevin.

Her husband said Mrs. McKinny enjoyed a 2011 visit to the Canadian Rockies and annual summer trips with her family to the Lake Placid area.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Jude the Apostle Church, 800 Niagara Falls Blvd.