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Morrie’s Tavern Matriarch Leaves a Legacy That Reached Many Across the World

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

A tribute was held for the late "Boss Jan" Saturday outside of her establishment Morrie's.

A tribute was held for the late “Boss Jan” Saturday outside of her establishment Morrie’s.

Already an accomplished mother and business woman, Janice Murial Owen McGovern Moore’s legacy started to be defined in 1993.

That was the year her granddaughter Melissa was born with Wilms tumor. Moore made it her life’s mission to see her grandbaby get well and raise money for the people who helped her to survive, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

When Moore passed away March 3, people from Millington and across the world wanted to pay tribute to her. Her charity work, ownership of Morrie’s Tavern and being a supportive mother and grandmother touched so many people that this past Saturday a tribute was held all day at the business she ran for years.

“She was a very awesome lady,” her son Jerry McGovern said. “She did everything she could do for St. Jude because of my daughter. She had hundreds and hundreds of friends. Anyone who went through her path was a better person. Morrie’s Tavern meant a lot to her, it was her life. She ran it for more than 40 years.”

The iconic bar on Easley made Moore a part of the Millington fabric. Morrie’s Tavern became even more famous when it was used in 2005 for scenes in the motion picture Black Snake Moan.

“She said she loved it and she would never do it again,” McGovern recalled. “She had the opportunity to do it again but she turned it down. It was a very stressful day for her.”

The Lady known as “Boss Jan” had many stressful moments when it came to Melissa. Her little granddaughter faced a battle with nephroblastoma also known as Wilms tumor that affects the kidneys. Doctors believe that the tumor begins to grow as a fetus develops in the womb, with some cells that are destined to form into the kidneys malfunctioning and forming a tumor.

Before being diagnosed with Wilms tumor, most children do not show any signs of having cancer, and usually act and play normally. Often, a parent may discover a firm, smooth lump in the child’s abdomen. Some children also may have nausea, stomach pain, high blood pressure, blood in the urine, loss of appetite, or fever.

With support from her family and the work of medical personnel, Melissa survived. She went on to be a standout student/athlete at Millington Central High School. She signed a college scholarship to play softball and went on to be an advisor for the Christian organization Young Life.

Through her business, Boss Jan held several fund-raisers for St. Jude. And closer to home she supported the Millington Crisis Center. For several years Morrie’s Tavern would take all tips collected during the holiday season and donate them to the Crisis Center.

McGovern said his mother wanted to give back to the place that she called home for more than 40 years. And he said Saturday was a chance to pay a proper tribute to his mother.

“That’s her friends and her neighbors,” he noted. “That’s what she wanted. She’s lived in Millington since 1970. She was a Navy wife. We moved back here in 1970 and been here ever since.”

With visitors in Morrie’s Tavern from all over the world, McGovern said of all the wonderful things his mother has done in her life, one thing tops them all.

“If I had to sum it all up, she would do anything for St. Jude or anything for cancer research,” he concluded. “I think she would agree on that. Also she’s a legacy to everybody. Anybody who ever ran across her she’s a legacy. She has done something for so many lives.”

Moore was 75 and a life member of the VFW Auxillary and the DAV. She is survived by her husband, Daniel F. Moore; daughters, Kristi Ann Whitten and Melinda Fran Moore Maddox; sons, Joseph Michael McGovern, Jerry John McGovern, and Jay William McGovern; sisters, Betty Owen Laufman, Judy Owen Schneider, and Lorray Owen Tupy; 18 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to St. Jude or the American Cancer Society.



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March 2013
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