Sad News: The Passing of Janet Brasco, Last Hope Co-Founder

  Sad News: Last Hope Co-Founder – Janet Brasco- Passed at Age 91

     A Message from Linda Stuurman, Last Hope president: On March 28, 2024, the co-founder of Last Hope, Inc., Janet Brasco, passed away at Huntington Hospital. She was 91 years old, and still amazing.

  Janet at Last Hope 25th anniversary.

     Janet was honored for her service at our 25th Anniversary Gala in 2006. Her co-founder was Gerie Walsh who had moved to the Mid West, and died several years ago. Janet was one of a kind- very determined, compassionate, bright, feisty and a pioneer in the Long Island animal rescue scene in the 1970s. She originally helped found the League for Animal Protection in the 1970s which in its heyday had several branches throughout Long Island.  As so often happens in the rescue world, she had a falling out with the League, and resigned to form and incorporate Last Hope, Inc. in 1981.

     The primary purpose of Last Hope at that time was to rescue “death due pound animals.” Janet and Gerie spent much of their time saving dogs at Huntington Shelter when their brief stay was over and they were about to be euthanized. They also rescued cats off the streets and fostered them, or kept them in rented storefronts and barns until adopted.

       Janet attended our grand opening of the Wantagh Adoption Center in June 2011 and adopted one of dogs- a Beagle- that same day.  I met Janet in 1975, I believe, as a college student home on spring break when I found a a black cat (later named Hobo) on my parent’s property injured with a huge abscess. I called Janet for help, and she immediately sent me to a veterinarian with Hobo where his abscess was drained and  he was put on antibiotics. Hobo got better and became one of our pets. I convinced my mother to feed him while I was away at college. We neutered him for $10 when I got home for summer.  Imagine $10!

     In 1991, Janet asked me if I would take over Last Hope for her. By that time, I had been volunteering with the organization since 1986, having become the queen of feral cat trapping. I had fostered many a cat and litter of kittens and run a few fundraisers. The organization consisted of 6 volunteers. How bad could it be, I thought?  Don’t underestimate what someone may be asking you do.  So, here we stand now.

    Hopefully, I continued Janet’s most important rescue strategy -not to hesitate to help an animal in need- the money can be raised later- time is crucial.  Act now; not later.

     Joanne and I will be attending Janet wake on Thursday, April 4th at Jacobsen’s in Huntington Station, and her funeral mass on Friday at St. Patrick’s Church in Huntington. Her family asks for monetary donations to Last Hope in memory of Janet Brasco.

Janet became a regular visitor at our thrift shop in Huntington where Joanne learned about her profound knowledge of Charles Dickens and his publications.

More about the Incredible Janet Brasco: also an expert on Charles Dickens and the TV Show – The $64,000 Question”.

Message from Joanne Anderson, Last Hope outreach coordinator: Although our rescue paths crossed various times over the years, Janet and I didn’t get to become fast friends until October 2023, when her daughter Laurie began bringing Janet to the Last Hope Thrift Shop in Huntington on Thursdays.  Janet would sit with me and chat about Last Hope and animal rescue while I checked out customers purchasing thrift shop treasures. And I would introduce her to our customers as “the illustrious founder of Last Hope” 43 years ago.

Janet was thrilled to see our donated merchandise , and would compare our incredible items to the lesser quality “stuff”  she received when she opened a Last Hope Thrift Shop nearby in the 1980s.  This is when I learned that Janet was an also expert on Charles Dickens. When she was around 25 years old, she was scheduled as a contestant on TV’s “$64,000 Question” until the cheating scandal was discovered and the “$64,000” TV show was immediately cancelled.

I told Janet she would get a chance to be on a new version of the “$64,000 Question” at our Thrift Shop.  A month later Janet got to meet the great grandson of Charles Dickens when we attended his one-man-show performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington. Read more about Janet Brasco, her rescue history and her skill as a Dickens dictionary in my 11/9/23 Amityville Record “Pets” column link below:

Pets, Pets, Pets

Janet and her Dickens “$64,000 Question” at the Last Hope Thrift Shop-Nov. 2023.

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