In Memory of




Obituary for Janet F. Avery

Janet F. Avery

Janet Fairfield Avery, 65 year resident of Pearl River, NY, passed away on September 9, 2020 at age 96. She was living with her son’s family in Cherry Hill, NJ at the time. Janet was born March 31, 1924 in Troy, NY to Professor John Guthrie Fairfield, a mechanical engineering mathematics instructor at RPI, and Gladys Eugenia Van Zandt Fairfield, an oil painter and art instructor at Troy Public Schools. Janet graduated from Troy High School, earned a B.S. in Biology from Russell Sage College, and in 1948 earned a M.S. from the Department of Physiology, University of Rochester, where she studied physiological responses of mammals to cold environments. From 1948 to 1958 Janet was an Assistant Research Biologist in the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Testing Section at the Pearl River campus of Lederle Laboratories Division of American Cyanamid, where she and colleagues tested the recently developed Aureomycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, and many other important pharmaceuticals developed at Pearl River during this time. An avid and knowledgeable gardener, Janet was a horticultural agent for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County in New City, NY in the 1970’s and was a long-time member of the New York Fern Society where she attended monthly meetings at the New York Botanical Garden. She traveled regionally to locations such as the New Jersey Pine Barrens and internationally to Oaxaca, Mexico to see ferns in the wild. During the 1980’s Janet was a Scientific Research Assistant working with a team of scientists at Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY, where she helped pioneer the use of a computerized recording system for continuously collecting and analyzing behavioral data of socially-living primates. She later helped use this system to discover that the psychotropic drug fluphenazine, used for treating human schizophrenia, caused negative psychotic symptoms in mentally ill human patients.

On July 26, 1952, Janet married watercolor artist Allan Freeman Avery at her parent’s home in Troy, NY. Janet and Allan were active members of the First Unitarian Society of Rockland County in Pomona, NY for over 50 years, where Janet served on the Board of Worship and other leadership positions. A talented artist herself, Janet won numerous local and regional awards for her ceramics and photography throughout the 1950’s - 1970’s, including the Highest Award in Hobby Ceramics from Popular Ceramics Magazine at the Green Meadow Invitational Pottery Show, Spring Valley, NY. A member of the Lederle Employees Recreation Association (LERA) Camera Club during the 1950’s, Janet won numerous awards from the Rockland County Camera Club for her black and white photographs developed in her home darkroom. Her photographs were publicly exhibited as recently as 2019 at the Pearl River Library and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockland. Janet’s artistic talents were not limited to the visual arts. Throughout the 1950’s Janet also played the cello for the Rockland Suburban Symphony, and shared her love for classical symphony music throughout her life.

Janet cherished her yearly travels to Monhegan Island, ME where she and Allan honeymooned, and revisited Monhegan with family for nearly seven decades. She befriended many of the past and current artists of Monhegan, and generously supported the Monhegan Museum of Art and History and The Monhegan Memorial Library. Janet also traveled to Costa Rica as an advisory board member of The Leatherback Trust, supporting the protection of leatherback sea turtles from extinction. She generously donated personal funds to help save nesting beaches from development, and supported woman conservationists working to save sea turtles. Janet also supported giant panda research and conservation in China through the Global Cause Foundation.

Janet will be remembered for her kindness and generosity, and as a cherished family matriarch, scientist, artist, and humanitarian. She was an advocate for women, science, wildlife conservation, and the arts. She is survived by her son David Fairfield Avery (Sandra Barkley) of Pearl River, NY, and her son Harold Weeks Avery (Susan Beardsell) of Cherry Hill, NJ. She is the cherished grandmother of Teresa Louise Avery, Mallory Lorraine Avery, David Fairfield Avery Jr., and Loreena Katherine Avery. She is predeceased by her brother, Roger John Fairfield, of Glendale, California.

An online Memorial Service in celebration of Janet’s life is planned for Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 11:00 A.M. EST, via Zoom. Those wishing to participate can contact Harold Avery at or check the Bradley Funeral Home website for details. All are welcome to attend, and all are encouraged to share a memory. Private interment will follow at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockland Memorial Garden in Pomona, NY.

Janet Avery Memorial Service online Nov. 7

The UU Congregation will have a Memorial Service for Janet Avery, online via Zoom, at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020.

You can attend by clicking this link to our Zoom worship room. Use 8827 as the passcode.

If you already have Zoom on your computer, the Zoom number is 485 357 217.

By phone, call (646) 876-9923, then enter 485 357 217# and the passcode 8827.

The service will be led by Rev. Allen Wells. We will invite people to share memories of Janet during the service.

If you have questions about accessing the service, please email

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a contribution in Janet’s name be made to one of her two favorite charities, The Leatherback Trust (, or the Monhegan Museum of Art and History (

To access the live stream click here.