Emma Johnson

“Earlier this afternoon there was an accident on Main Street and a pedestrian was killed.”

This was the statement informing the Davidson College community, sent by the administration, about the death that occurred on Main Street in downtown Davidson on April 1st. However, the student body never received additional, comprehensive information informing about the community member lost and the impact she had on the town.

The life of Janet McFadden deserves to be known and recognized by the Davidson community. The owner of Davidson Pet Sitters, an in-home pet sitting service, Janet was a beacon and a lifesaver for many people in the area. She had lived in the Davidson area for over twenty years and made a lasting impact on her fellow community members. Eleven years ago, Janet started Davidson Pet Sitters, which has since grown immensely. She cared for any and all pets between Mooresville and Huntersville. 80% of the clients of Davidson Pet Sitters are from the Davidson-Cornelius area. Many probably know someone – be it a professor or a member of the town community – who has had their pet lovingly cared after by Janet and her team.

Janet may not have worked for the college, but she certainly had strong and meaningful ties with people who have made their marks on Davidson’s campus.  When her children were younger, she sought help looking after them while she was at work, and a few Davidson students came to her aid. These students soon became part of Janet’s family, often eating dinner with Janet and her children on Tuesday nights. Many spent their summers in her house as they worked on campus or in town, and over the years, after graduating, they have continued to return to see Janet and her family and share memories and experiences together. Many were present this past weekend for Janet’s memorial service, flying in from all over the country to say their good-byes.

Janet’s husband, Brian Freeman, spoke to me about who Janet was a person, and he described her lasting message for the world, which is especially applicable to Davidson students: “It is difficult to describe Janet; she was sort of shy, but we had 400 people show up at her memorial. She was amazing with people one-on-one. There was a space for everyone in her heart and in her life. All her life she worked so hard, and she knew the tough positions that young people could be in growing up. Her message for young people it gets to be a tough time, know that there will always be people around to help you and that there are people out there who do care. Janet received some of that help growing up and was more than willing to help others, and she would want you to know that you don’t have to go at it alone.”