Born in Minneapolis in 1928, in the year of the advent of sliced bread, Joan was blessed with lovely green eyes that sparkled, and a beautiful smile and magnetism that lit up a room. Growing up in Minnesota, she had fond memories of skating on frozen ponds, riding street cars, adventures with family and friends, and working at the soda shop and as a checker at the local grocery store to earn money, which she used to put herself through college. Whether enjoying time swimming at the lake or picnics after a ride on the riverboat, family was at the heart of Joan’s upbringing.
All through her life, Joan made many dear friends, including “the gals “, six special chums who met in junior high and high school, and for over seven decades, gathered each year to travel together, and laugh a lot.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1949 with a Bachelors in English Literature and Psychology, a “Stewardess” job with Northwest Airlines unexpectedly brought her and her good friend Ellen west to Portland, then Seattle. In a time when married women couldn’t work, after 7 years with Northwest, she secretly married Frank, a Flight Engineer with Northwest, and ultimately quit. Joan and Frank, along with collie, Robin, moved to Tukwila, where they lived in the same house happily for 28 years, and raised four children. She joined the church choir, volunteered for the American Cancer Society, brought Shakespeare and art to the summer festival, “Tukwila Days”, tutored at the elementary school, chaperoned on numerous field trips, managed apartments, and along with close friend Diana, drove all the kids cross-country in the family station wagon to visit aunts, uncles, and cousins in Minnesota and Nebraska. She made the most delicious homemade apple pie, and Swedish Kringle, and lived a full, independent, extraordinary, classy, charmed, adventurous, and travel-filled life. She surrounded herself with the things she cared about most: family, friends, love, joy, laughter, kindness, music, art, theatre, animals, nature, gardening, wildlife, camping, travel, literature, cinema, antiques, knitting, sewing, painting, baking, learning, beauty, grace, joy, humility, affection and purpose. She loved papaya, strawberry waffles, plumeria blossoms, Mt . Rainier, the Timberline Lodge, roses, lilacs, tulip fields, a spontaneous trip to Disneyland, waves lapping at the shore, being of help, a Sunday drive, Paul Henreid in “Now, Voyager”, Grandma Swanson’s macaroni and cheese, licking the ice cream bowl clean, laughing and reminiscing on the phone with her oldest and dearest friends Lee, and Kay, and Ellen, and (now the last of “the gals”) Virg, and anything on British television, especially “As Time Goes By”. She came to accept and understand tattoos, FaceTime, and smart watches, and at age 94, stayed up until midnight watching 42nd Street, saw the magnificent Skagit Valley tulip fields again, and experienced virtual reality with her sister at the Van Gogh exhibition in Seattle. She was a really good listener and friend. She loved to decorate for the holidays. She was a treasure. Joan died as she lived: peacefully.
She will be missed so much by so many, including her adoring children and their families, her dear sister Nancy, her vast extended family; her lifelong friends from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis and beloved college friends from the University of Minnesota; her “Stew” friends from Northwest Airlines; her darling Ashland friends, good friends in Hawaii, her great Tukwila friends and neighbors, and the congregation at Foster-Tukwila Presbyterian Church; her choir friends from the Seattle Symphony Chorale; her friends from the board of the American Cancer Society; her many daring travel companions over the years; beloved relatives across America and in Sweden, her fun “Anchorettes” coffee friends; her longtime Lagoon Point friends; avid reader friends from the Clinton Library; friends from Chanteuse women’s choir, her very special Langley friends; the caring health care professionals she’s touched along the way, and countless others from the Whidbey community, where she’s lived happily for nearly 40 years.
It was indeed a full, wonderful life! Rest well, dear Joanie. We’ll miss, love and cherish you, always!
Joan generously supported many important charitable organizations over the years, such as Island Senior Resources, WAIF Animal Shelter, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, Smile Train, MS Society, National Audubon Society, National Great Pyrenees Rescue, Heifer International, the American Cancer Society, PBS, Center Valley Animal Rescue, and the Nature Conservancy. Thank you for considering donating to a non-profit today – Joanie would be so proud!