On Monday morning Janis, a musician and composer who performs around the world, returned to the facility, around the corner from the house on Parsonage Road where he grew up, to entertain its residents before Christmas.
"It's always fun having a home base, a place to come back to," said Janis, 42, who lives in York, Maine.
Janis, who attended North Street School and Central Junior High School, has performed in specials for public television and sold millions of albums. He is on a Christmas tour, playing with an ensemble at convents around the Northeast, and decided to do a free show in his hometown before heading to the International School at Dundee in Riverside for a program with students, and then a private event later in the evening.
"As we get older, we see the importance of sharing what we have," Janis said.
While many of the staff members who were around when Janis used to come by have retired, Mary Bruce, the town-owned nursing home's recreation director, said she remembers that when Janis visited, he would push residents around in their wheelchairs and talk to them.
"He was always very helpful," Bruce said.
"I remember him from North Street School," said Mary Loughran, a Witherell volunteer who served with Janis' mother on the school's parent-teacher group, as she transported one of the residents to the nursing home's chapel.
Loughran's sons were friends with Tim and his two brothers, Peter, a Realtor in town, and Stephen Janis.
"It's wonderful," she said of Janis' performance.
Swartz was traveling Monday from her winter home in South Carolina, so she wasn't at the performance.
Peter Janis, 40, also remembers visiting the Witherell. The school bus would leave the boys nearby, and they would meet their mother there and walk home. Stephen Janis, 46, also a musician who now works as a journalist in Baltimore, would sometimes play songs, such as "The Entertainer," for the residents on the piano.
"I remember going over and playing records for them," said Peter Janis, who recalled playing an album by rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd for some bemused residents.
For an hour Monday, Tim Janis accompanied several musicians and vocalists on keyboard as they sang holiday classics including "Joy to the World" and "The First Noel," as well as original compositions.
The dozens of residents who gathered for the performance were particularly wowed by a pint-sized singer who had joined Janis for the Greenwich leg of the tour. Along with a few other songs, 9-year-old Jackie Evancho of Pittsburgh, belted out a rendition of the Italian aria "O Mio Babbino Caro."
Evancho had appeared with Janis in a recently filmed PBS special called "Celebrate America."
The residents appreciated the performance, though Janis' return was slightly upstaged by Jackie's talent.
"I loved it," said 99-year-old Bernice Pazda. "It was just beautiful, and that little girl is fantastic."
Staff Writer Lisa Chamoff can be reached at email@example.com or 203-625-4439.