Joan Kathryn Willis, most recently from Bangor, WI, passed away on March 7, 2019. Joan lived her life bringing knowledge, joy and kindness to all she met.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota to David and Fanny Hoffman, Joan grew up to be an accomplished scholar, strong Christian and wonderful mother and wife. After graduating from Hamlin University, Joan started her career as a teacher but soon transitioned into library science where she spent a long career blending her joy of reading and learning with her joy of interacting and helping the public. It was her first job as librarian on a bookmobile that led her to find and marry the love of her life – Walter Lee Willis, her husband of 63 years with whom she had two children.
Joan went on to achieve her master’s degree in library science from Texas Woman’s University and in the course of her life she and her husband enjoyed living in Huntsville, AL; Ann Arbor, MI; Los Alamos, NM; Dallas, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Klamath Falls, OR; Reno, NV; and West Salem and Bangor, WI. She was an active member of AAUW for her entire professional life and into retirement.
Faith, family and friends were always the cornerstones of Joan’s life. Joan was an amazing correspondent who never missed a birthday or anniversary and kept everyone informed of her and Walt’s adventures. She was active in many churches working on committees, as secretary, as church youth group leader, and as a faithful member of the congregation. Joan strongly supported many charitable organizations and orphaned children. She and Walt devoted countless hours to tutoring elementary children and caring for others. Joan also logged countless miles helping her children with boy scouts, girl scouts, and many musical and theatrical pursuits. Joan’s other interests included travel, classical music and reading. She and Walt travelled to all 50 states and to 19 countries. She was always up for a good adventure, whether it was backpacking into the wilderness or enjoying a 5-star resort.
Joan was preceded in death by her father and mother, David Graham Hoffman and Fanny Cassandra (Johnson) Hoffman; and is survived by her husband, Walter Lee Willis; her children, Walter David Willis and Anita Lorraine Willis-Frels; 5 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 30, 2019, with a 2:45pm video visitation followed by a 3:00pm service at the Presbyterian Church in West Salem, WI. In keeping with Joan’s lifelong practice of lending a helping hand and support to others, the family asks that donations in her name be given to Heifer International or Care International.