Graveside services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in Hope Cemetery, Texas Township, Kalamazoo, Mich. Memorial donations can be made to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation or charity of your choice. Arrangements are by Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Kalamazoo, (269) 343-1508. Please visit Joann's personalized webpage at www.langelands.com.
She was born Aug. 14, 1937, in Peoria, Ill., to Gladys F. and Benjamin S. Womble, formerly of Kalamazoo. She was raised in East Moline from the age of 9 months. She graduated from United Township High School, East Moline. She attended Augustana College, Rock Island, with an academic and music scholarship. During eighth grade she was published in the Illinois Historical Magazine. While in high school, Joann was selected as a musical ambassador to the other Quad-Cities schools and performed often on WOC TV programs. At age 16, she wrote five full orchestral arrangements and performed with a full orchestra in Chicago. After that, she traveled two summers from a Chicago base. While at Augustana, she had a weekly campus musical radio show with the Marvel Ingram Trio. Later she obtained a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts (cum laude) degrees from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo.
As a professional musician, she played marimba, vibraphone, oboe, organ and keyboards, from the age of 12, for 42 years. She lived and worked in Chicago and appeared on WGN TV from time to time as a young entertainer and traveled and worked in many places in the United States and Canada for three years.
She married Kenneth E. Dehring, now deceased, and moved to Kalamazoo, in 1958. From 1969 to 1999, she taught first, third and fourth grades at Woodland Elementary School in Portage, Mich. During that time, she was awarded an international science prize from Rockwell International and NASA for developing a project with third grade students as the nation celebrated the first flight of the shuttle, Columbia. Some other highlights of her teaching career were writing curriculum and staff development. She wrote assessment tests to be standardized for an educational research company, was a science resource person for GEMS science texts, (Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkley), resource person for Southwestern Michigan Computer Users for state requirements for computer endorsement in education, helped implement an Employee Wellness Program.
She loved her family and friends, learning, music, computer, Bible study, photography, trees, dogs, horses, outdoors, yoga, life and was an advocate for children. Her many interests after retirement from teaching included mentoring children who were involved with a horse program to enhance social and personal development and reading, meeting with friends for get togethers, tennis, golf, swimming, pickle ball (The Villages favorite past time), horse activities, astronomy, book discussion, bridge, teaching others new technology and exotic trips with a high school friend and birthday celebrations. Volunteer work with Master Gardeners, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, MSU Extension Grandparent's Rights Activist (GLO) with the Michigan state legislature, Michigan Task Force issues dealing with children and writing legislative bills introduced and passed were highlights of post retirement.
As a breast cancer survivor, she began a new chapter in her life at The Villages, Fla., in 2006. There she spent time with old classmates from East Moline and friends from Portage who had become snowbirds and residents in Florida and new friends from all over the country who live at The Villages.
Some of her affiliations included Alpha Delta Kappa, Gamma Zeta, past president, Kappa Delta Pi, Prudent Investment Club, Portage, Susan G. Komen Foundation Volunteer Chair, Southwest Michigan, Michigan Master Gardener Program, GLO President and Developer, MARSP, AARP, Sierra Club, BAC and West Hills Athletic Club.
Surviving are daughter, Kim L. Croft; grandsons, Joshua J. Scott and Caleb Croft; brother, Philip Janzen; and sister, Joyce L. Christy; nieces and nephews and cousins. She was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth E., in June 1999.
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