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Jane Armstrong-Byrne

Jane Armstrong-Byrne

1934—2019

Jane, known as Janie by almost everyone, passed away in Santa Rosa, California on August 21, 2019. She is survived by her beloved husband Tom Byrne, whom she married in January 1974.

Jane was born in Chicago and was raised in Downers Grove, Illinois. She attended Iowa State University and was an Institution Management Major in the Home Economics Department, graduating with high honors in 1957. After a year of Dietetic Internship, she became a Registered Dietician, something she maintained all her working career.

Her first job, at the American Dairy Association, Janie worked in the test kitchen testing and developing recipes for the Dairy Industry. In 1964 she became Director of Home Economics for the Wheat Flour Institute. In 1966 she was hired by Jewel Food Stores as their first Consumer Affairs person, becoming in 1971 the Vice President of Consumer Affairs and one of the very early Vice Presidents of a major US company. She was instrumental in Jewel’s effort to become a leader in programs that today shoppers take for granted. With Janie’s leadership, Jewel was the first to develop open dating on milk, dairy and other perishable products. Previously, freshness dates were in a code that no one could understand. She served on national committees, USDA and FDA, that developed nutritional labeling where a shopper could read the nutrient content of any canned or packaged product. She also led grocers to use unit pricing where the price per ounce was listed on all packaged products. Janie retired from a long career with Jewel in 1984. Throughout her career she was a national expert on all things in food. She was a judge of the Pillsbury Bake Off three times and four times a judge at the National Chicken Cooking Contest, in addition to other culinary competitions.

Janie was a member of or participant in many national food and agriculture advisory boards and committees, as well as consumer and nutritional organizations. In 1970 she was named Outstanding Young Alumnus of Iowa State. In 2019 the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition granted her the department’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for her significant contributions to the dietetics and nutrition field.

She delighted in leading and the meticulous planning of many gourmet food trips throughout Europe for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. She personally led the first Chicago CFC trip around the world in the early 1960’s.

Janie and her husband Tom bought timber land on Diamond Mountain on Kortum Canyon Road above Calistoga in 1979. While still living in Illinois, they cleared the land, developed the property and planted a 10-acre vineyard. In 1992 the couple moved to California and built their home adjacent to the vineyard. They became active in vineyard management and development of what would become a world class Cabernet Sauvignon Vineyard, known as Armstrong Ranch.

During the following years, Janie was very active in the Master Gardeners in Napa County. They sold the vineyard in 2017 and retired to Santa Rosa.

A dedicated and talented woman, she will be greatly missed. A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 2:00PM at the First Presbyterian Church, 1428 Spring Street, St. Helena. Private Interment, Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, St. Helena.

Arrangements under the care of Daniels Chapel of the Roses Funeral Home, Santa Rosa (707)525-3730.

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