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RACINE — Former Mount Pleasant Town Chairwoman Janice Hand, who ran for mayor last year in Racine, died on Tuesday at her home. She was 63.

Hand died from what family members believe was a heart attack, Hand’s sister-in-law, Betty Braun, told The Journal Times on Friday.

Family members on Friday spoke of Hand’s passion for helping people.

“She did a lot of good things,” said her older sister, Liz Richards of Dover. “She did care a lot about people. She loved to help people.”

Hand had worked as the program director for the Wisconsin HIV Primary Care Support Network at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee since 1995. Before that, Hand worked for the Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation, where she was executive director.

Braun, of Franklin, said Hand worked for the Great Lakes Hemophilia Foundation during some of the years before blood was tested for HIV.

“She was very concerned about the ones who accidentally became HIV-positive. Years ago, blood was not tested for that before a transfusion,” said Braun, an artist. “Her main concern really was the children. She didn’t have any children of her own, but was very concerned for the children.”

Hand served as a board member for Big Sisters of Greater Racine since 2014, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Richards praised her work for Big Sisters of Greater Racine, as well as her grant-writing efforts for the Medical College of Wisconsin and her public service in the community.

Political legacy

Hand ran against Racine Mayor John Dickert and the Rev. Melvin Hargrove in the April 7 election. Dickert won re-election. But that was not Hand’s first experience with municipal government. She served as town chairwoman in Mount Pleasant from 1991 to 1993, succeeding Mary Carrington in the post. Before that, she served for four years as a town supervisor in the days before Mount Pleasant became an incorporated village in 2003.

“We’re going to miss her (on) Easter. It’s going to be a sad time,” Richards said. “We’re going to make it happy because she’s where she’s supposed to be — in heaven.”

Hand also is survived by her oldest brother, Romuald Braun; brother-in-law Les Richards; sister Theresa “Rhea” Braun (who is Liz Richards’ twin sister); and other relatives.

Hand’s husband, Leonard, died in February 2010, according to her obituary. Betty Braun said Leonard survived colon cancer, but while the couple was wintering at their condominium in Florida, he became ill and died from a ruptured appendix.

“Together they had a very happy life. She just was a great person,” Braun said.

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