Janice Maxine Nesbitt, a Long Island native, corporate trainer, devoted mother and choir singer in Huntington Station, died March 4.
Nesbitt, who had moved to Columbia, Maryland, to be near relatives, succumbed to natural causes at a nursing home there, her family said. She was 78.
Born in Oyster Bay in May 1938, Nesbit graduated from South Huntington High School, where her family said she became Long Island’s first black lead majorette.
In March 1958, she married Samuel Nesbitt, and the couple had three children.
Her daughter, Michéle J. Nesbitt-Johnson of Randallstown, Maryland, said her mother was a master at screening neighborhood children who wanted to be friends with her kids.
“She knew everything about everybody,” Nesbitt-Johnson said. “She was just so smooth with it and could make it feel like you weren’t being interrogated.”
And because she knew so much about her children’s friends, Nesbitt became “the young, cool mom of all our friends,” her daughter said.
While her children grew up, Nesbitt worked in data entry in New York City, starting out as a clerk at what is now JPMorgan Chase in Manhattan. She then moved to the same position at Equicor, which Cigna Corp. bought in 1990. Nesbitt became a data entry and customer service supervisor at Cigna. She retired as a corporate trainer in 1998.
When Nesbitt wasn’t working, she was involved in her church. The Huntington Station community might remember Nesbitt as a mainstay in the choir at Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church there.
Nesbitt was a soprano with “a wonderful singing voice,” said Ruth Donegan, an evangelist at Evergreen Missionary who was childhood friends with Nesbitt.
Donegan said Nesbitt started in the church’s junior choir, then moved up to the adult choir. Nesbitt was a loyal friend who was very popular and a member of the church’s baseball team, Donegan said.
“We weren’t very good, but we looked good,” said Donegan, of Wyandanch.
In 1993, Nesbitt relocated to Columbia to be near her daughter. Nesbitt-Johnson said her mother was having health issues “so I felt like I needed my mother to be close to me.”
Most of all, Nesbitt-Johnson said she will miss her mother’s optimism and her ability to give everyone a clean slate.
“No matter what you were going through or no matter how far a family member fell from grace, she never had a bad thing to say about anyone,” Nesbitt-Johnson said.
Nesbitt was predeceased by her husband, Samuel, and brother William Henry.
Nesbitt’s survivors also include sons Stacy N. Nesbitt of Randallstown, Maryland, and Kipp L. Nesbitt of Tortola, British Virgin Islands; sisters Gail L. Plummer of Orlando, and Martha D. Parker of Huntington; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Janice Nesbitt was cremated in Maryland on March 8. Her family will host a visitation service at noon Saturday at Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church. At the service, Donegan said the choir will sing “Be Ye Steadfast,” one of Nesbitt’s favorite hymns.