Joann Mary Farber was born the second of four daughters to Ruth Haensel Farber and Herbert Gordon Farber, of Walnut Grove. Her early childhood was spent growing up and playing on the family farm on the banks of Plum Creek. Joann had many fond memories of playing dolls under the trees with her sister; swinging on ropes in the barn's haymow; fishing with her father and his friends; horse-drawn sleigh rides during the snowy winters; and attending a one-room school house taught by her eighteen-year-old teacher.
The Farber family moved to Montevideo, while Joann was in elementary school, and Joann later graduated from Montevideo High School. All the Farber girls took part in high school activities and particularly enjoyed the music program. Joann played the French horn and competed with that instrument at the state level. After graduating high school, Joann went on to earn a degree in English from St. Cloud State University. She taught two years at Sandburg Middle School before marrying Vincent Kuiper and moving to San Bernardino, Calif. Joann would eventually become a caregiver for Vince.
In 1962, Joann began teaching at the relatively new Eisenhower Junior/ Senior High School in Rialto. That was before Rialto Unified School District existed. Joann enjoyed saying she had “been at Eisenhower since dirt.” For 40 years Joann loved being a high school guidance counselor. She touched the lives of thousands of her kids and their families.
Joann was passionate about quality public education, students, teachers, and teaching. She was the spokesperson for the Rialto Teachers Negotiating Team as they negotiated the first master contract with the district and each subsequent contract until she retired in 2002, including during the teacher strike of 1979. Joann served terms as a representative to the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the chair of that body's Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee. She was elected as a Director to the National Education Association (NEA). As an NEA Director, Joann would frequently travel to Washington D.C., representing the teachers and support staff within the area from Bishop to the Mexico border and from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean excluding Los Angeles County. Attending a reception at the White House was a highlight for her.
Joann and her husband, Russell E. Wygant, had been together 41 years. Before retiring in 2002, they would spend most summers flying their airplane around the U.S. and into Canada. After retiring they enjoyed traveling in their motor home. Joann liked to read, sew, do crafts, and the New York Times Crossword Puzzles.
Joann is survived by her sister, Carole Farber, of London, Canada; nieces, Bonna Boettcher, of Newfield, N.Y.; Elizabeth Wegner, of St. Paul, and Ann Patteson of DePere, Wis. She has two grand nieces and three grand nephews.
Joann was preceded in death by sisters, Nancy Patteson and Barbara Boettcher.
The family will hold a private memorial for Joann. In lieu of flowers or memorials, the family suggests donations in Joann's name to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund at