Janice R. Ayres, executive director of Nevada Rural Counties RSVP and a former Carson City supervisor, died Monday. She was 92.
Ayres, who oversaw expansion of rural RSVP in the state from five to 15 counties after becoming director in 1979, died at Carson Tahoe Medical Center. It was reportedly due to complications after a diagnosis of cancer.
Ayres’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Program capped a nearly 35-year career in a social services that spanned more than a half-century. The program she built to serve seniors in all but two of Nevada’s counties today is recognized as one of the nation’s largest RSVP operations.
“She was just a real pioneer and a constant promoter for senior benefits and for senior programs,” said Jerry Thurman, president of the Nevada Rural RSVP’s board. “She was very meticulous about this program.”
In 2001, her program was recognized as the Outstanding Non-Profit Organization in Nevada when she received the late Gov. Kenny Guinn’s “Points of Light” award. Subsequently, Ayres was voted Outstanding Older Nevada Worker for the State of Nevada.
In 2008, Ayres received the outstanding congressional commendation award from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, and in 2010 she received the “Living the Legacy” award from the Sanford Center for Aging at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2011, the 76th Nevada Legislature issued a proclamation recognizing her years of service.
She also was honored by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for her contributions to the Silver State.
Public-service appointments during her career included roles on the Governor’s Commission on Aging, the Nevada Commission for National and Community Service, the Nevada Commission for Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, plus various local boards and commissions.
In 1992, she was elected to serve on the Carson City Board of Supervisors. She served as a supervisor for one term, representing constituents from early 1993 until 1997.
Ayres also founded the Nevada Senior Corps Association and served as its president. She served in key roles with the National Association of RSVP Directors, the Nevada Association for Retarded Citizens, the American Heart Association, the Nevada Association for Mental Health and the Clark County Easter Seal Treatment Center.
She had earned dual master’s degrees in business administration and mass communications from the University of Southern California.
In releasing biographical information on Ayres, Nevada Rural RSVP added this statement:
“We encourage all Nevadans to join with her family and friends in honoring this outstanding and grand lady, whose legacy is truly an inspiration and a model for all.”