When we think of the empire dynasties, we think of China and Rome. The Barrymores were a theatrical dynasty, the Kennedys a political dynasty. But Los Banos had its own dynasty, consisting of three Falasco brothers—Ted, Robert and Dominic–and their wives: Jan, Yvonne and Parky.

It was my honor to know these vibrant men and women who did so much for Los Banos and who were all truly gifted people. They all happened to live near me in what I call  the Page Avenue T7riangle.

With the recent death of Jan Falasco, an era has ended the likes of which we will not see again. As were many others in Los Banos, I was a longtime friend and fan of Jan.

Sometimes we fail to think of who a person was before we met them, as if this person is a gift just for us. Janeen Kunde did not start out in Los Bans. She graduated from Newman High School and went on to college at Chico and Fresno. Oh, I bet she was beautiful then, as she continued to be throughout her life.

Jan taught for several years before Ted Falasco was fortunate enough to get her to marry him. All of us in Los Banos benefited from the marriage. Jan and Ted had two lovely daughters, Linda and Suzi.

I was so lucky to  have Jan live on the same street as I did, Page Avenue. Jan and Ted’s home was long a landmark at the end of Sixth Street. Often when I would drive by their house I would see Jan sitting at their kitchen table, usually reading the newspaper.

Jan was an impeccable dresser. She reminded me of Jackie Kennedy and Lauren Bacall with her simple elegance. Her short white cropped hair and glowing skin made her ageless to me.

An avid card player, Jan was sharp as a tack and wise (in my eyes) for being a cat lover. When Ted died, she explained to me how he was her rock. She wondered how she could go on. She looked at me and said, “Wait, one day you will see.”

And yes, I did when my husband Ron died. It is hard to lose the rock of our lives, but Jan did so with grace.  After Ron died, Jan asked me to come to her house, telling me that I was beginning to let myself go and that wouldn’t do. 

When I wrote something in the newspaper that she liked, she let me know. And when she didn’t like it, she would let me know that as well. Jan told me I liked too many people. “You know,” she told me, “some of them are just not that nice.” A dry wit had Jan.

Asking for donations when I was running for the Los Banos City Council many years ago, she gave me a contribution and then asked if that was enough. 

I thanked her and told her I really appreciated her support. Jan persisted. “Then you don’t want more?” she asked.  I froze for a moment, and then said yes. “Well, Diana,” she responded, “if you want something, you have to ask for it. People are just not going to come around and ask you what they can do for you today.”

I’d have loved to have seen Jan in a political office. Jan’s quick, clear thinking is a rare thing. If Jan said it, I would believe it.

Jan brought style and panache to our street, our city. Jan was a rare and special woman who will be long remembered.

I had a thing for a thing for all three Falasco women, living in the “triangle” where they also lived. They were as different as they could be, each having endearing qualities.

Parky was such a fun, lively person, and I loved spending time with her. Yvonne was Grace Kelly, very sweet, proper and kind, I often had tea with her. I admired and loved her.

Yes, I need to thank Dominic, Robert and Ted for their great taste in wives. They enriched all who knew them.

By the way, I am sure Jan is playing cards right now in heaven–and winning. You go, girl!

Diana J. Ingram

Diana Ingram has been a columnist for Los Banos newspapers for four decades.