JoAnn Isabelle Johnson Smith, 93, of Northfield, passed away Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in the loving care of her family and the Northfield Retirement Community staff.
JoAnn was born in Minneapolis, March 27, 1926, to John Leonard and Esther Isabelle (Giere) Johnson. At the age of 10, JoAnn lost her mother to tuberculosis, an event that forever changed her life. Following the death of her mother, she moved to Hayfield, to live with her grandparents, Claus and Caroline Giere, and then to Montevideo, graduating from Montevideo High School in 1943. She attended St. Olaf College and the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing in Minneapolis, where she became a registered nurse.
JoAnn first met the love of her life, Leon Gordon Smith, when they were both in the eighth grade. On June 21, 1947, JoAnn married Leon Gordon at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Montevideo. They made their first home in Minneapolis, and in 1949, moved to Montevideo where they began raising their family.
JoAnn dedicated herself to family throughout her life while balancing a commitment and passion for helping others as a beloved nurse at the Montevideo Hospital, St. Peter Hospital, and Mankato Hospital, where she touched hundreds of people with her skilled nursing, compassion, and warm smile.
After retirement, JoAnn and Gordon discovered the beauty of Arizona where they spent the winter months, and eventually established a full-time residence. Green Valley, Ariz., was their home for many years where they welcomed visitors and enjoyed traveling, hiking, and beautiful sunsets. In 2017, health conditions necessitated a relocation and they reestablished their Minnesota roots at the Northfield Retirement Community.
Throughout her life, JoAnn was active in the church. She and Gordon enjoyed many hours rehearsing and contributing their musical talents to weekly services. Following in the footsteps of her mother-in-law, JoAnn was a longtime member of PEO, an organization that promotes educational opportunities for women. JoAnn dedicated many volunteer hours to the American Red Cross and Meals on Wheels. She was a wonderful cook who created countless memorable gatherings for loved ones. She spent many hours knitting and quilting to create beautiful keepsakes that will forever live in our hearts. JoAnn had many talents, including gardening, playing piano and singing. She was an eternal optimist — sweet, kind, and quick to smile. She loved to socialize and was a friend to all. JoAnn was dearly loved, and will be greatly missed.
Survivors include her husband of 72 years, Gordon; five daughters and their spouses, Karen Louise Ferrington, of Hackensack, Susan Jane Fox, of Northfield, Deborah Jean Becker (and David), of Northfield, Judith Allison Blaisdell (and Joel), of Plano, Texas, Caroline Esther Smith (and Craig Petersen), of Northfield; 11 grandchildren, Laura Ferrington-Jones (and Kenderick), David Ferrington, Thomas Fox (and Kathryn Goggin), James Fox (and Laura), Joseph Fox (and Richelle Stillwagon), Peter Blaisdell (and Kacey), Andrew Blaisdell (and fiancée, Katie Myhre), Jane Becker Nelson (and Peter), Ann Becker Peterson (and Adam), Margaret Ann Friedrichs (and Joseph), Michael Paul Nielsen (and Billie Jo); 15 great-grandchildren,: Tatiana, Robert, Malcolm, William, Avery, Cadel, Daniel, Jesse, Westley, Joanna, Rebekah, Leah, Liv, Cora, Ritajane; half-sister, Judith Kolzow; half-brother, James Johnson; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Preceding her in death were her step-mother, Swanhild Johnson; her parents; grandparents; infant brother; and two step-sisters.
JoAnn's family would like to express their deep gratitude to the entire staff of the Northfield Retirement Community Care Center for the extraordinary skilled and loving care she received.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Chapel of the Northfield Retirement Community, 900 Cannon Valley Drive West, Northfield, MN 55057. Visitation will be one hour prior and a reception will follow. Interment will be in Sunset Memorial Cemetery, Montevideo.
Memorials are preferred to Northfield Retirement Community, PEO Sisterhood, and Northfield Youth Choir.
Benson & Langehough Funeral Home, of Northfield, is in charge of the arrangement. (