Remembering Jan Sherman:
Sally Dark Rides memorializes long-time co-worker and friend

It is with a heavy heart we state the passing of long-time co-worker and friend, Jan Sherman. She passed away due to complications with diabetes and cancer.

After acting in the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, “Cross and Sword” at the St Augustine Amphitheatre for many years, Jan joined Sally Dark Rides in 1982 to produce soundtracks and scripts for our animated productions. John Wood reminisces, “She was quite the stickler, always striving for perfection—this made her an invaluable member of our team.”

Some of her early productions included Daniel and the Dixie Diggers, Bubba Bear and the Badlands Band, Billy Jo and the Bluegrass Bears, Ursula and the Om Pah Pahs, Mr. Beaks and the Tropical Tweeters, Merlin and the Magic Music Makers, and the White Tiger Show for Chimelong.

When the company shifted gears to dark ride production, Jan handled her new set of responsibilities and challenges with diligence and enthusiasm. She led the installation of the first dark ride refurbishment at Alton Towers, launching the company’s new direction of building and reviving dark rides around the world.

In addition to her work as a talented writer and producer, Jan created Sally’s advertising and print materials for over 20 years. Her innate charisma and grace also made her a key spokesperson for the company.

After retiring from Sally in 2014, Jan continued to work as freelance editor for Arbus Magazine, North Florida's arts and business magazine, owned by her daughter.

To her colleagues, Jan was best known for her love of animals, theatre, grammatical precision, creativity, and professionalism.

“We’re grateful to have had the force that was Jan Sherman for all those years,” Wood says. “She will be missed.”

"While I miss the fine, talented people I worked with at Sally, the clients, friends in the industry media, and the remarkable actors, singers, musicians, composers and studio folks who made my shows and music tracks come to life, it's great to know that in various corners of the world, people are still listening, laughing and, hopefully, occasionally learning something new and interesting from the work I produced." - Jan Sherman, 2014

Here are some stories from the colleagues who knew her best.

"One on my favorite memories of Jan happened early on when my husband and I saw her perform in a play. It was “Street Car Named Desire” written by Tennessee Williams. Jan played the lead role of Blanche Dubois. The production was performed at the Five Points Theatre (currently known as the Sun Ray Cinema). She was an exceptionally talented actress. During the last scene when she said the famous line to the doctor, “Whoever you are…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”, there was a deafening silence throughout the audience and I am sure that many, like myself, were struggling with teary eyes. I will never forget that moment. After witnessing her performance, I gained a deep respect for Jan and her many talents. She was a beautiful, unique person, that helped to solidify Sally’s foundation. She could also be painfully opinionated at times, but undeniably had a profound heart of gold.

I greatly appreciate her significant contributions to Sally and her friendship throughout the years. She will be missed." - Donna Gentry, VP Project Management

"When I moved from Dallas to Jacksonville in January 1997 to begin my new career at Sally, Jan was one of the first people in the company with whom I collaborated creatively. Over time I discovered there was a fascinating dichotomy with her.

On the surface Jan was a thorough, seasoned professional with very strong opinions and tremendous pride in her work. Jan certainly didn't sugar coat her thoughts! I always knew exactly where she stood on any creative issue. She was vastly talented and amazingly knowledgeable in drama, music and writing. When Jan supervised the music and sound effects on several rides I helped design such as Ghost Blasters, Gobbler Getaway and The Challenge of Tutankhamen, I had the pleasure of watching her in the studio with composers and sound technicians as she achieved the precise results she wanted. She was always exacting and consistently definitive. I learned so very much just listening and watching her work.

And there was another, almost opposite side to Jan. Never have I met anyone with more empathy, kindness and genuine heartfelt love for animals. Jan would do whatever she could to help a stray or an animal in distress. She regularly donated money to various animal rights, conservation and environmental groups. I remember many times she told me about how she would save up pet food so she could feed the homeless cats around her condo complex, try to keep them warm in the winter and pay for their medical care. Her love for nature and the welfare of animals was unparalleled in my experience.

Jan was an exceptional colleague and a respected friend. We shared many very personal life stories over our time together and saw eye to eye on many social and political issues. Yes, no doubt, Jan sometimes presented an iron-clad, professional exterior to the world -- but inside she had a heart of pure gold." - Drew Hunter, VP Creative Design

“Jan and I worked together on many projects, but the project I think back on most fondly was when we worked together on the Warner Bros. Justice League: Alien Invasion dark ride.  

One moment that sticks out during the production of the attraction was the creation of the preshow video.  One particular segment called for “Starro Spore aliens” to invade downtown Metropolis. Jan and I brainstormed all kinds of different ways to do it, but to make it look believable was going to be really tough.  We ended up going with a live action shoot in downtown Jacksonville (where Sally Dark Rides is headquartered). We have a few tall buildings and wide streets in the city center that look halfway believable as Metropolis, so it seemed plausible. We hired the crew and just went for it.

It was an amazing moment, seeing Main Street completely shut down for the film shoot. The streets and sidewalks were filled with dozens of actors, police officers and fire fighters. We brought in a custom Metropolis police cruiser that would screech through the streets once the aliens started dropping. We had motorcycle stunt men, TV news reporters …it was all very exciting! It was so exciting that the actual local news team came down to try to find out what was going on. Turns out people from the buildings around us started calling the police, thinking it was some kind of terrorist attack! As Jan often did, she jumped right in front of the camera and gave them a thrilling breakdown of the day’s events, pitching Sally Corporation, Warner Bros. and DC Comics the entire time. Jan really was such a professional. It was a master class working with her.  She will be sorely missed!” - Rich Hill, Creative Director