Body in Tuttle Creek identified as missing K-State employee; colleagues remember her fondly

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A body discovered in Tuttle Creek Lake on Friday has been identified as Jane Peterson, a K-State employee and St. George, Kan. resident who was reported missing in January.

According to KMAN, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office announced the positive identification of Peterson when the autopsy results were made available earlier this week. According to the autopsy, Peterson died of drowning and hypothermia. The Sheriff’s Office said foul play was not suspected in her death.

Peterson was reported missing on Jan. 19 by family members. Her truck was discovered at Tuttle Cove the following day. Multiple search parties by volunteers and authorities combed the area for several days without success.

Peterson, 56, was a senior administrative assistant in the department of physics. She was employed at K-State for nearly 30 years and had come to be known fondly by many as “Janie.”

Amit Chakrabarti, William and Joan Porter chair, professor and head of the department of physics, said he and the other physics staff were saddened by her loss.

“She was a terrific person,” he said. “One of our best employees.”

Chakrabarti said Peterson was known for being extremely helpful and efficient at her job. If someone was busy because of a grant proposal that was due or some other project, Peterson could always be counted on to help, he said. She also took care of incoming graduate students, even giving them rides to appointments.

“She went way above and beyond the call of duty,” Chakrabarti said.

Bethany Jochim, graduate student in physics, knew Peterson since 2011. She echoed Chakrabarti’s sentiment that Peterson was the kind of person who would go “above and beyond” to help students apply for graduate school, get registered for classes, fill out paperwork and answer any questions they had.

“No matter what we needed, we always knew we could go and ask Janie and she would help us out,” Jochim said. “She meant a lot to us.”

Though Peterson’s funeral arrangements have not been finalized, Chakrabarti said her family is planning to do something this upcoming weekend. The department of physics is making arrangements to have their own memorial service on March 14 so as not to conflict with Peterson’s family’s service.

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