Joann B. Peterson (neé Mendel) was born on Nov. 28, 1940, in Lewistown, Mont. and passed away on Nov. 26, 2017, in Greenbank. She was the last of William and Alvina Mendel’s six children, and a most welcome surprise. Joann grew up in Kalispell, Mont. As a high school senior, her life was forever changed when she received a scholarship to attend the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Her mother was aching to know what was in the thick envelope but waited for Joann to get home from school; when she opened it, there were tears of joy, laughter and dancing through the house.
Joann often remarked that her college years gave her an intellectual curiosity she enjoyed the rest of her life. UPS is also where Joann met Arthur M. Peterson, to whom she was happily married for 55 years, referring to Art as “her prince.” Other formative experiences for Joann included the five fairy-tale like years she, Art and their two children, Lisa and Merrill, lived in and explored Europe, and the many years she spent traveling the country as a registered dietitian, doing education for the Washington Dairy Council. Joann was an accomplished student of the German language and a sumi-e painter who exhibited her work in a variety of shows.
Joann’s keen intellect and sense of humor drew people to her. She loved a good conversation. She was an avid reader and served as president of the Friends of the Library in Freeland for six years. She could beautifully articulate her knowledge and observations on a wide variety of subjects. She loved nature, and Art and Joann’s home and garden, first in Seattle and then on Whidbey Island, reflected that love. Long before she received her training as a dietitian, Joann was a skilled and adventuresome chef. A true foodie, she shared many delicious meals with others as expressions of love.
Her family and friends came first. She was always there to listen and help in any way she could. She was an empathetic, generous, energetic woman who got things done. Joann was loved and admired by all who knew her. Our lives were enriched by her and her memory will live on in our hearts. Ovarian cancer struck a wonderful person, far too soon. Her family appreciates the expert and caring treatment provided by the WhidbeyHealth Cancer Care Program and Hospice care providers, as well as the kind and loving support provided by her many friends.
The following words, adapted from the obituary of an old friend, so spoke to Joann that she asked to have them included here. “The atoms that have made up my body have been around for billions of years. They have served me well, but now return to be recycled again and again into new parts of the universe. I have had an incredible life. I’ve had love, friendship, enjoyed learning new things and understanding the world around me, laughed, and traveled to amazing places in mind and body. I hope I have touched a few lives in positive ways. Be good to each other, live life with passion, learn everything you can, and reach out to others…you can make a difference! Be sure to vote!”
Joann is survived by her husband Arthur, her daughter Lisa A. Peterson and son-in-law Jeff Carter of Seattle, and son Merrill A. Peterson, daughter-in-law Carol Yoon, and grandchildren Emiko and Erik Peterson-Yoon of Bellingham. She is also survived by a multitude of friends and her five siblings: Verne Mendel (Davis, Calif.), Eugene Mendel (Helena, Mont.), Neysa Stanton (Shoreline), Marjorie Bombar (Bellevue), Mildred Mansfield (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and their families.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date. Those who wish can donate to an endowed scholarship fund that Joann and Art created at the University of Puget Sound, called, appropriately, “Girl From Montana.” Family and friends are encouraged to share memories and condolences at www.whidbey memorial.com