Ken Tucker
November 01, 2009 AT 11:29 PM EST

Before the tabloids and the scandals, Jon & Kate Plus Eight was a terrific family show that frequently included glimpses of the Gosselins’ support system of friends. One of the key members of that group, Janet Weidenheimer, has been reported dead at age 72.

As Kate says in the clip below, “Nana Janet” was a friend of the family, what Kate called a “pseudo-grandparent.” She loved the Gosselin children and took part in lots of family activities, such as this birthday party from the show’s second season:

Described later in this episode as “crazy and loud and fun,” Weidenheimer took the time to get to know the Gosselin children individually and was a big help to Kate as a baby-sitter.

As the series progressed, one of its odd, unexplained elements was that friends such as Nana Janet disappeared from Jon & Kate Plus Eight. It was as though Jon and Kate were isolating themselves as their notoriety increased. For whatever reason, Nana Janet faded from the series. Her memory won’t fade for longtime fans of the show. She always seemed like the nicest woman.

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