Last updated 2/18/2022 at 9:23am
Heather Janikowski lost her battle with cancer on Jan. 19, 2022. Heather was home in Fallbrook with her family and her chocolate lab, Chip, by her side.
Heather was born on Aug. 31, 1972, in Torrance, California, to Chuck and Jean White. Raised in Fallbrook, she attended Fallbrook High School, where she excelled in softball and cross country.
Heather attended Long Beach State University, graduating in 1996 with a degree in kinesiology. An elite level athlete, she was an integral member of Team 101, a pro/am cycling team, and the captain of the Long Beach State cycling team. She was an incredible sprinter and excelled in criterium racing. Qualifying and competing in collegiate nationals multiple times, she won or placed in too many races to count. Continuing her education at Azusa Pacific, she earned an M.A. in education and was certified as an athletic trainer.
Heather met the love of her life in college. After seven years of dating, Dan and Heather married on September 28, 1998 in Canyon Lake, California. Their first child, Dean Charles, was born in 2000. Then Dan built their first home and he and Heather moved back to Fallbrook. In 2002, their daughter, Megan Jean, was born. Jack Bradley David came a few years later in 2004.
Dan knew Heather missed riding horses and on Christmas Day 2002, he surprised her with a horse. Heather rode for the love of the horse and the love of being outside and enjoying nature. In 2021, the Janikowski family moved to Heather's dream farm house – the house that she designed.
When Dan and Heather were first married, Heather worked for Rancho Physical Therapy and was the trainer for the local football team. Her career path then brought her to teaching. She taught and coached softball at Elsinore High School. Heather always made sure that every child she met got the best of her. Her sincerity with children was beyond genuine.
After her children started school, Heather became a preschool teacher and coached the girls' basketball team at St. Jeanne de Lestonnac in Temecula. If you visited her classroom, it was not uncommon to find two or three children sitting on her lap and a few holding on to her leg. Heather was active at her children's schools: auction chair, room parent, student store chair, volunteer, etc. She often rounded up many of her friends to help out at the school.
In 2012, Heather became a PE teacher at St. Jeanne's. A strong advocate for all children, Heather made sure that the ones in her path got the attention they needed and were the recipients of her unconditional love.
Heather was the friend everyone wanted. She was passionate about being the best friend she could be – a trait she attributed to her mother. Those of her friends who needed her time, and her love, were showered with Heather's heart. She was always there to help in any way, at any time. If you spent time with Heather, you left with a love in your heart that will last forever.
Heather's proudest accomplishments were her children and the life she and Dan created for their children. She never missed her children's sporting events or anything they were involved in. Even when she was sick, Heather would say "I am going." She would deck herself out with the team's gear and sit with Dan at the games. She didn't care if it was raining, snowing or blistering hot, she would be in the stands watching her children compete.
She was happiest at parties in her home with as many people as she could invite and sharing special moments with them. She loved the family farm – home to chickens, horses, cows, goats, dogs, cats. It was not unusual for Heather to show up with a dozen eggs or a bag of oranges to give to her friends. When she had time to herself, Heather loved to play with her dogs and ride her horses. To ride, run, or walk with Heather was an event – an event that her friends will keep as cherished memories.
Heather is survived by her husband Dan, daughter Megan, sons Dean and Jack, parents Chuck and Jean White, half-sister Shannon and 34 nieces and nephews.
Funeral Mass will be Saturday, Feb. 26, 10 a,m., at Pala Mission with a Celebration of Life to follow at 3 p.m. at the Janikowski home. In lieu of flowers, please donate to heatherjanikowskifoundation.org.