Former HPD chief Janda remembered
HOUGHTON – Even before Jim Janda came back to the City of Houghton, he’d already had a fascinating life.
But he’d leave his stamp on the city after his first retirement, including 10 years as Houghton’s police chief and 16 years as the host of the Houghton RV park. Janda died this month at 84 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
He and his wife Pat were hosts at Houghton’s RV Park for 15 years, retiring after the summer of 2006.
“Working for the City of Houghton is not work,” he said in a 2006 story about his retirement. “That’s not too schmaltzy – it’s true. That’s the way I feel.”
Houghton Police Chief John Donnelly said he had known Janda as park host, and known of his leadership and what he had meant to Houghton.
“He set the tone for (former chief) Ralph (Raffaelli), and the effects in policing have trickled down to us,” he said. “It just gets passed down. He did the city a lot of good, and he’ll be missed.”
Born in Chicago, Janda later moved to the Copper Country, where his hobbies included auto racing in Laurium.
He met his future wife, Pat, when they were students at Jeffers High School, from which he graduated in 1949. After she graduated a year later, they married. Next month would have been their 64th wedding anniversary.
“He was good-looking,” she recalled. “He was just a little bit different, and a little more outgoing.”
Janda had given her an engagement ring at 16, though Jeffers’ original principal Cora Jeffers wouldn’t let her wear it in school.
After selling Studebakers and working as a truck driver, Janda joined the Chicago Police Department in 1956. He worked his way up to the Criminal Intelligence Unit, a 10-man unit to investigate major crimes. He also served as a sergeant watch commander in the detective division’s burglary section, and later flew helicopters for the department until his retirement.
“He was very highly thought of at the Chicago PD … I have two scrapbooks full of his exploits,” Pat Janda said. “He was quite a guy in everything he did.”
After retirement, he and Pat moved to Beaver Island, Michigan. In addition to operating a resort, Janda served as township supervisor and also flew many medical evacuations on a Med-Evac he helped secure for the township.
After their time in Beaver Island, they moved to Houghton. Once he retired as police chief, the Jandas moved to Florida, traveling back up to Houghton in their RV for the summer.
“It’s been kind of a normal life, I would say, except for all the adventures we’ve had,” Pat said. “We’d need to write a book.”