A volunteer at the Juneau Douglas City Museum and the Last Chance Mining Museum, Janes is an authority on the descendants and history of the area.
She said she usually answers questions of descendants who want to know about their ancestors.
Janes said she has always loved history and came to Douglas in 1964.
Renee Hughes, a member of the historical society, said Janes is a constant help to the group.
"She is one of the most respected historians in our area, and an extremely valuable asset to this community," Hughes said.
Longtime friend and fellow historian Gary Gillette said members of the society rarely give a lifetime achievement award and have wanted to honor Janes for some time.
While the presentation would have been made at the society's monthly meeting, Janes was undergoing medical tests in Seattle after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"We decided to give her the award before we even knew of her diagnosis," Gillette said. "She's done a lot to preserve the history of Douglas and Juneau."
Janes was honored at a private reception in Juneau on Nov. 6 where her family and fellow historians were present.
"I just have a love for history," said Janes, a Douglas resident. "People are always wanting to know about their family. Many times I will have come across someone in a photograph or in research and I can pass along information about a person."
Hughes said the work Janes has done will continue to benefit the community for years to come.
"Willette has always been willing and generous to help out," Hughes said. "We as a community really love Willette. She's a valuable person, and we're very sad she's sick."