Obituary of Janice Vranka (1967 – 2021) – Boulder, CO

Dr. Janice Antoinette Vranka, a woman who has won in almost everything she’s done, ended her battle with cancer on August 26, 2021. She was an Associate Research Professor of Ophthalmology at Oregon Health and Science University. At the time of her death, she was at home with her husband, sister, brother and children. Dr. Vranka was born the fourth of five children on April 20, 1967 in Boulder, Colorado. She grew up in the western foothills of town near Four Mile Creek. His early interests included alpine skiing with his siblings for the Lake Eldora Racing Team (LERT) and the Boulder Area Racing Team (BART). She also studied the piano and the trombone, two instruments that she will continue to enjoy throughout her life. Vranka’s range of athletic abilities and her subtle competitive nature were becoming evident in college, when she won first place in the Red Zinger Mini Classic cycle race. She has excelled in all sports and activities, especially skiing, where she has placed in the top 10 at the US National Championships on several occasions. An underclassman athletics teammate recalled her as “a nice badass.” She graduated from Boulder High School in 1985. While studying biochemistry at the University of Wyoming on a full alpine skiing scholarship, Janice was selected to represent the United States at the 1987 World University Games in Czechoslovakia. In her final season, she won the bronze medal at the 1990 NCAA Championships in Stowe, Vermont. She also studied for a year in Nantes, France, before going to Oregon Health and Science University for a master’s and doctoral program, completing her doctorate in biochemistry in 1997. Dr. Vranka remained in Oregon for continue research at Shriners Hospital for Children. , and in 2009 became a professor-researcher at the Casey Eye Institute. A prolific researcher, she has published more than 30 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals as she delved into the trabecular meshwork, a region of the eye important for the regulation of intraocular pressure. Her accomplishments were further illustrated when she received a much sought-after grant from the National Eye Institute (NIH), the BrightFocus Foundation, and the Glaucoma Research Foundation. She has regularly presented her experimental results at national and international conferences. Upon hearing of Dr Vranka’s passing, a colleague said: “She was one of the best in research, few of them have that kind of confidence, poise and elegance.” Early in her graduate studies, a chance conversation with a lab technician about the mango she enjoyed introduced to Janice Kennedy Wambalaba from western Kenya. They will get married in 1999 and have two children. The care, attention and love that Janice has shown her husband and children as she supported their efforts and enriched their lives cannot be quantified. She has taken on coaching roles in soccer, basketball and robotics, and has never missed a single track meet. Throughout this time, Janice continued to participate in indoor and outdoor soccer, playing several seasons as a midfielder with the Hell Cows. Her love of music had recently found her playing the trombone in the Southwest Community Band. Harvesting produce from the garden, raising chickens, researching new recipes, and feeding family were additional passions. Janice is survived by her beloved husband, Kennedy Wafula Wambalaba, and her beloved daughters Rispa Vranka Wafula and Siuma Vranka Wafula. She is survived by her parents, Joseph S. Vranka and Marilyn Effie Vranka of Boulder, Colorado, and her siblings Joseph Vranka Jr. (Lorraine Mitchell Vranka) of Clancy, Montana; Christine E. Vranka (R. Derek Greene) of Louisville, Colorado; Michael Vranka (Nishiena S. Gandhi) from Albuquerque, New Mexico; and his nieces and nephew: Tarik, Brogan, McCoy, Zahra, Zelaika and Xaviera. She is also survived by many other members of her family in addition to a multitude of colleagues and friends, who will miss her confidence, her tireless curiosity and her ever-ready smile. She was predeceased by her sister, Marilyn Theresa Vranka. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Janice Vranka Memorial Fund at A celebration of Janice’s life will take place today, October 8, 2021 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Foundry in Oswego Headland in Oswego, Oregon.

Posted by The Daily Camera on October 8, 2021.

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