Joanne Chapin

Joanne Chapin died peacefully on January 22, 2021 at her home in Sandwich, IL. Joanne Josephine (Farrell) Chapin was born in Detroit, MI on November 18, 1929, daughter of Maurice Patrick Farrell and Mary Josephine (Dark) Farrell. In 1951 she graduated from Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI, with degrees in French and Education, and began teaching high school French and English classes.

Looking for more excitement in her life, in 1953 Joanne left a note for her mother, hopped a train and joined the United States Air Force. While stationed in Waco, Texas, Joanne met her soon-to-be husband Donald and the two were married on January 21, 1955 in Waco. After fulfilling their Air Force duties, Joanne and Donald moved to Indiana where she again taught school while Donald attended college. The family later moved to Kalamazoo, MI and then to Eau Claire, Wisconsin where they raised their large family and Joanne and Donald then spent their retirement years in Gulf Shores, AL, Ft. Payne, AL and Sandwich, IL.

Joanne was the mother of 11 children 8 boys and 3 girls. With all 11 children still living at home, Joanne pursued further education which culminated in her earning a Masters degree from University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in 1976. She then returned to teaching and also used her love of travel in her favorite career as a tour guide, serving as a Tour Director for Wisconsin Northern Tours for over ten years. Joanne truly loved to travel! Joanne and Donald traveled extensively throughout their lives with many European, Russian and Canadian trips including several winters in Cyprus one of their favorite spots. They also lived in Sweden for a year.

Throughout her life, Joanne valued knowledge and culture. Joanne was unbelievably well-read and never to be found anywhere without a book on her lap. She spoke several languages and had a thirst for learning that is not often seen. She rarely held back her opinion whether discussing politics, religion or child-raising. Sadly, Joanne suffered many years with Alzheimers, losing her ability to read, travel, voice her opinion or recognize her children.

Joanne and Donald were married for 58 years before he preceded her in death in April of 2013. Also preceding her in death are her parents, her brother Thomas and her sisters Mary and Lois. Joanne is survived by her 11 children Mark (Margo Bock), Todd (Becky Zank), Sean (Sally), Barry (Gretchen Fisher), Gena (Duane) Gerdin, Brian (Kathi), Chris (Jody), Bridget (Jon) Leonhard, Steve (Beth), Don (Julie), Carrie (Michael Muth), 17 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

The family would especially like to thank Barbara Sopel, for her wonderful care of our parents for many years we have been truly blessed to have her! Memorials may be directed to the Fisher Center for Alzheimers Research.

The family will hold a private memorial service and burial on a future date.

Arrangements by Nelson Funeral Homes & Crematory, or (630) 552-7211.

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