Joann Schwartz died on May 16, 2008. During her final illness she had a constant stream of visits by her loving children, grandchildren, many relatives, neighbors and friends. She was connected and involved in so many people's lives. All of us will be diminished by her passing.
Joann was born to Marion and George Thayer Jordan in Chicago, IL on April 7th, 1926. Four years later, the family moved to St. Joseph, Michigan to leave the crime ridden city of Chicago, but they soon discovered they were next door neighbors to Al Capone. In St. Joseph, Joann attended the last one room school house in Michigan.
Her mother married Herbert Ulmer in 1937 and they blended their two families. They moved to Denver, Colorado where Joann graduated from high school. She attended Grinnell College for 3 semesters and left college to work in a bomb factory to help with the war effort. Later Joann graduated from Wayne State in Detroit where she was active in a campus organization that promoted racial equality. She got her Masters in Library Science in 1951 at Columbia University.
On June 17, 1951, Joann married Jerome Schwartz and they moved to California in 1955. They enjoyed a warm and loving relationship, sharing interests in politics, travel, and cultural events during their 49 years together. They were committed to social justice, peace and environmental causes. Throughout the rest of her life, Joann maintained an active interest in these causes. When Jerry developed Parkinsons Disease in his 50's Joann was a devoted caretaker, giving him personal and moral support and keeping him energized and involved with the world throughout the 20 plus years of his illness.
Professionally, Joann was a children's librarian. She worked as the East Yolo County Regional Librarian at the Arthur Turner Branch in West Sacramento. She developed the building program for the architects when the library was reconstructed. Joann coordinated children's programs throughout the Yolo County libraries, and she was the first librarian in the county to invite authors of children's books to come and speak about their work. She had a life-long love of reading that she shared with her children, grandchildren and friends. Most recently she belonged to The No Guilt Book Club in Davis, CA. She was passionate about the books she read and always eager to discuss them.
Joann was a deeply devoted mother and took great pleasure in raising her children, Judy and Jay. She adored cats and many people in her family had names starting with J, even her cats. She took delight in her grandchildren Jeremy, Jessica, Kirk and Ashlyn and had loving relationships with her 19 nieces and nephews. Joann got along wonderfully with her neighbors, and made friends wherever she went. Every encounter with friends began with an animated exchange about her children or grandchildren or a new book she was reading.
Joann was intellectually alive. She enjoyed Sudoku and was an avid bridge player, playing with a close circle of friends for over 30 years. She loved concerts, lectures, and participated in many types of classes throughout her life, including recent Elderhostel trips with friends. She was a patron of the Davis Musical Theatre Company and the Mondavi Performing Arts Center. Joann participated in research studies including the dietary section of the Women's Health Initiative Study. Her own personal fitness program included participation in the Fit for Life exercise group at the UC Davis athletic facility, walking 3 to 4 miles each day, and hiking, especially in her beloved Point Reyes Peninsula. In fact, she participated enthusiastically in a 12 mile hike in her 81st year.
Joann represented the essential caring person and was incredibly kind and gentle. She exuded warmth and concern. She lived what she believed, giving blood, diligently recycling, and volunteering at Kaiser Hospital. She donated generously to many charitable organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Rainforest Action Network, and The International Rescue Committee. She tried to be helpful to everyone, and was consistently thoughtful and generous.
Joann is survived by her children, Judy and Jay, her four grandchildren, and her large extended family. Friends and family will truly miss her. In lieu of flowers please donate to the favorite charity of your choice or to the Special Needs Trust for her nephew, Thayer Jordan, by contacting Eleanor Jordan Schopler at 919-304-6657. The memorial service will be at 2 pm on July 12, 2008 at the Davis Community Church, 412 C Street in Davis.