Joanna Lou Hurst Nesheim died peacefully of natural causes at her home in Puyallup on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
She was the youngest of four children born Aug. 19, 1926 to Louis and Fern (Pryor) Hurst. Born and raised in Leon Iowa, she graduated from Leon High School in 1944.
After high school she attended the University of Iowa. During her time at the university, she enjoyed performing in the renowned University of Iowa Scottish Highlanders, playing a snare drum in the Bagpipe & Drum Corp. She met her husband, George Nesheim, at the University of Iowa. Joanna graduated with a degree in sociology in June of 1948, and she and George were married in Iowa City in 1950.
Over the next 12 years they moved west to Colorado and their family grew. She was kept busy running a household of six children and many pets. They moved to Forest Grove, Oregon in 1960, where George attended optometry school and Joanna returned to the workforce at Sawyer View Master in Hillsboro.
After George’s graduation from optometry school in 1964, the family relocated to The Dalles, Oregon and then in 1968 arrived on Bainbridge Island, where George started his optometry practice and Joanna took employment at Royal Globe Insurance Company in Seattle.
In 1974 she took a job at the Bainbridge Island School District as secretary to the superintendent, retiring from that position in 1989.
As longtime Bainbridge Island residents, Joanna and George were active in the local community, including attending St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, where Joanna served on the Church Vestry and was senior warden in the mid-1990s.
In 1996, after George’s retirement, they explored a love of travel by joining and participating in a service organization called Volunteer Optometry Service to Humanity (VOSH), whose members traveled to developing countries to provide eye care and glasses to those in needed.
In 1998, they relocated to Richland, where they settled into retirement, continuing to travel annually on VOSH trips to locations as diverse as India, Ukraine, Cambodia, Thailand and several locations in Central and South America.
Always up for an adventure, Joanna returned to the state of Iowa three times in the early 2000s driving a support vehicle for an annual bike ride called RAGBRAI in which her husband, daughter and grandson participated as riders for Team George. The final trip was taken when she was 82 years old.
A lifelong member of the Episcopal Church, Joanna found many ways to actively participate; be it singing in the choir, (forming children’s choirs in several parishes), Alter Guild, Vestry, and Knitting Ministry. She was a strong organizer of an engaging network of coffee hour teams and prayer chains. She also actively supported the All Saints Episcopal Church’s annual rummage and book sale in Richland.
At the age of 89, she relocated to Puyallup to be closer to her children, and established her small house, aptly named the “The Nest.” A gardening and entertainment enthusiast, she settled into her new home, creating an inviting yard and garden. She enjoyed entertaining family and friends, and looked forward to dinners with her grandchildren, who lived locally, and creating a cookbook memory of their weekly meals.
She is survived by her five children, Elizabeth Simson (Larry) and Leslie Noborikawa (Ron), all of Bonney Lake, Marta Thackeray (Jim) of McCall, Idaho, David Nesheim (Bonnie) of Chehalis, and Nancy Nesheim of Seattle; 13 grandchildren, Daniel, Brian and Kaitlin Powell, Tyler Simson (Nikki), Justin Simson (Kyle Withrow), Megan and Ryan Noborikawa, Samuel and Britta Thackeray, Jordan and Olivia Nesheim; and her beloved dog, Molly; her sister-in-law, Frances Markham of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; as well as many nephews, nieces, grandnieces and grandnephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, George, and their eldest daughter, Kristine Powell.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Christ Episcopal Church, in Puyallup.
Inurnment will be with her husband and his parents at Poulsbo First Lutheran Church, Poulsbo, at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 6.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the following organizations: Episcopal Relief and Development, 815 Second Ave. New York, NY 10017
Native American Heritage Association, PO Box 512, Rapid City, SD 57709.