Joan M. SmithDecember 6, 1923 ~ August 5, 2017 (age 93)
Joan Magdalen Smith of Waupaca, WI, passed away on August 5, 2017 at Bethany Home, under the care of hospice, caring staff and loving family.
Joan was born on December 6, 1923 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Robert Emmett (born Francis Emmit) Smith and Eola Elizabeth (Pember) Smith. The family moved to Omaha, then to Bensenville, Illinois where her father found work for the Milwaukee Road. Joan attended school in Bensenville, was an introvert, a bookworm who loved nature and animals. Her happiest days were summers spent running barefoot at her maternal grandparent’s farm on “the island” on the Platte River near Gibbon, Nebraska.
Joan attended secretarial school in Chicago and spent most of her work life as a federal secretary for those representing railroad workers claims before the National Labor Relations Board. She loved to do Gregg Shorthand, and used it as a code to keep notes confidential, until even a few months before her death.
Though she was particular about her work attire, classic clothes and jewelry, weekends found her outside gardening in old bib overalls, often with a gang of neighborhood children or nieces and nephews in her wake. She rescued abandoned kittens, put an aquarium of tadpoles in the bathroom, showed little ones how to pick up worms and butterflies and to appreciate the beauty of flowers, garden spiders, even snakes. She was opinionated and unyielding, but generous and caring too. Though she did not have children of her own, she earned the nickname “Grandma Joan” to some of her brother’s grandchildren.
Joan retired early and cared for her bedridden mother. In 1986 she relocated, with her brother Robert, to Wisconsin to be near family. She was a homebody, enjoying time outside on her mostly wild 7 acres, caring for a succession of cats and dogs, feeding deer and possums, watching public TV. After her brother’s death in 2013, Joan moved to Iola Living Oaks, where she resided till a disabling fall in March 2017 and declined in health till her death exactly five months later.
Joan is survived by nieces Megan (Kenneth) Karth of Waupaca, and Maureen (Joseph) Pogorzelski of Stevens Point, nephews Gregory (Vivian) Smith of Raleigh, N.C., Justin (partner Kathy Jo Fredericks), of Fort Pierce, FL and Sioux Falls, SD, Kevin (Becky) Smith of Blue Island, IL.
Also survived by grandnephews and nieces, Nathan (Hope) Karth of Appleton, Wi, Hannah (partner Kenny Arendt) Karth , Green Bay, WI, Jason (Kalissa) Smith of Wheaton, Il, Kyle Smith of Raleigh, NC, Derek (Jenny) Smith of Chicago, Il, John (Michelle) Smith of Sebastian, Fl, Joseph (Becky) Pogorzelski of Salt Lake City, UT, Katherine (Shaun) McMahon of Plover, and Molly Pogorzelski of Neenah. Further survived by great- grand nieces and nephews, Emily and Abby Karth of Appleton, Asher, Olivia and Elin Smith of Wheaton, Il, Savannah King and Lacey Smith of Sebastian, FL, Isla Smith of Chicago and Joseph Emmett Pogorzelski of Salt Lake City, UT.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents, brother, Robert Emmett Smith, grand- niece Samantha Smith Fox and great grand-nephew Ethan Emmett Karth.
The family expresses sincerest thanks to Bethany Home, Iola Living Oaks and Thedacare at Home Hospice for their kindness and care. Visitation will be held at Maple Crest Funeral Home on Friday, August 18 from 12:30 to 1:30, with funeral directly following. Interment of ashes in Badger Cemetery (Town of Lanark) at a later date.