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Ocala

Janice Freeman Roback

Janice Freeman Roback

Janice Freeman Roback was the vibrant, loving center of her family. A career educator in Montgormery County, Virginia schools, she served as an elementary school teacher, reading specialist, Language Arts coordinator and principal of Christiansburg Elementary School.

Janice Freeman Roback, 79, of Ocala, Fla., was born in the Morningside neighborhood of Atlanta. When she was a student there at Grady High School, “To Kill A Mockingbird” opened her eyes to the plight of African Americans in the South. She lobbied ferociously for African American children to be included in the gifted program at schools in Oxford, Mississippi. She bought shoes for children who came to school barefoot in Sopchoppy, Florida. And she taught fourth grade in Watts schools during the Watts riots.

She died suddenly on Wednesday, September 30, 2020, of cardiac arrest.

Janice was born on July 20, 1941, in Atlanta, Georgia. The third of five sisters, she twirled at football games for Grady High School and Georgia Tech. She attended Florida State University on a scholarship, where she was the first Garnet Girl solo twirler in the FSU Marching Band. She and her husband, the late Tom Roback, settled in Blacksburg, Va., and remained avid fans of the FSU Seminoles.

Janice earned graduate degrees from Virginia Tech and was a beloved teacher and principal in Montgomery County schools for 30 years. She retired in Ocala and found a loving place within the ballroom dancing community with her dedicated partner, Richard Accomando. She traveled the world and enjoyed running, hiking, kayaking and dancing. She also served on the board of the Oak Run Democratic Club and was active in the Ocala chapter of USA Dance.

A beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Janice will be remembered for her warmth, joyful spirit and curiosity. She touched countless lives through her career as an educator spanning four states. She shared her love of teaching, reading and writing and nature with her children, grandchildren and students.

She is survived by four children, Valerie Roback of St. Augustine, Fla., Tom Roback of Baltimore, Md., Stephanie Roback of Richmond, Va., and Catherine Roback, of Bangkok, Thailand; their spouses; and seven beloved grandchildren, Aaron, Abby, Ben, Matthew, Lucy, Tommy and Catie. She is also survived by two sisters, Carol Hamric of Pine Mountain, Ga. and Nancy Shealy of Cantonment, Fla.

In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to communitiesandschools.org.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

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