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Jane Louise Bawel

Jane "Janie" Louise Bawel, née Orlock, 60, passed away Oct. 22, 2023, in her home in Downers Grove, surrounded by family and friends.

She had been battling Merkel cell carcinoma since mid-2019, previously having non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2005, followed by an allogeneic stem cell transplant in March 2007. She was a fierce fighter, determined not to let cancer rule her life.

Janie was born in Hinsdale, the fifth of seven children of John and Marion (née Tracy) Orlock. She graduated from Downers Grove North High School in 1981. She married and had three children. In 2000, she began a very successful career in medical sales, which was cut short by her cancer diagnosis in 2005. In 2003, she married Brandon Bawel, blending their families together and gaining a stepson and stepdaughter.

Following her stem cell transplant in 2007, a group of friends organized a benefit motorcycle ride. More than 500 motorcycles and more than 800 people attended. Moved by the outpouring of love, she was determined to "pay it forward," and the Ride Janie Ride Foundation was created to provide financial assistance to other families battling cancer. The foundation has given more than $2 million in grants to more than 90 area families.

Janie loved spending time at her home in Hazelhurst, Wis., and Camp Nanapapa, where she could commune with nature and make wonderful memories with her family, particularly her "Misters" and "Little Miss." Janie developed many friendships there and became quite familiar with the local hangouts. She loved working outside, chopping wood, bike riding and playing a multitude of table and board games. Janie took great pride in being a homemaker and had tremendous flair for style.

Her years in Downers Grove rooted many lifelong friendships. She loved her meetings with The Tribe of Five. She was always the one making shenanigans, playing on the floor with her grandkids, making them "chunky" blankets, offering consolation and advice, and mostly being the foundation that held up her family. Eternally optimistic and fiercely loyal, her smile would light up any room.

She is survived by her husband, Brandon Bawel; her children, Jason Paul (Junefrida Romion) Happel, Timothy Bernard Happel, Melissa Jane Happel, Chuck (Jenna) Bawel and Brooke (Currin) McCarty; her seven grandchildren, Jaden, Valis, Jacob, Carter, Tripp, Nash and June (and Miles on the way); her six siblings, Pamela Louise Foulk, Michael (Liz) Orlock, John Tracy Orlock, Robert John (Trish) Orlock, Patricia Louise (Mark) Schaefer and Amy Louise (Joe) Wagner; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and her nephew, Mason Potter.

Visitation is from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at Adams-Winterfield & Sullivan Funeral Home, 4343 Main St., Downers Grove.

Services and interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Ride Janie Ride Foundation, P.O Box 307, Downers Grove, IL 60515 or online at http://www.ridejanieride.org/fundraiser/4105.