Jackson Audubon and the Haehnle Sanctuary lost a longtime supporter on September 21 when Joan passed away. She served on the Haehnle Committee for many years. Here are some memories from our members:
Joan will always be in my memory with her incredible voice of warmth and fun. She was always graciously hosting the Haehnle Committee members with chips & pop & pizza & delicious homemade desserts. Joan was a trained & remarkable botanist which she put to use in helping identify many native plants at the sanctuary. She left her gentle mark on the land & in our hearts.
Being a student of Ron's, I've known Joan since they got married. As I recall, Art Carpenter (and others I don't recall), a professor at Eastern Michigan where Joan did some teaching, got Ron and Joan together (blind date). Art and his sons came each year to our Christmas Bird Counts. The matchmaking worked. I recall Ron talking about taking Joan on a date on the back roads of the Waterloo area and listening to a whip-poor-will. Shortly after their daughter was born, I came by their house and Ron was in the yard hanging up cloth baby diapers. Joan was recovering from a rough delivery, so Ron was doing a lot of chores while she recovered. Joan was a great wife and mother. She was so supportive. Joan encouraged Amy in many interests including violin and they saw their daughter become an electrical engineer for General Motors. That kind of surprised me, with Joan and Ron so involved in biology and nature. For almost 50 years now, every time I see a black cherry tree I would think of Joan because she taught me a good way to identify it was by calling it the burnt potato chip bark tree. I also taught this memory aid to my students or groups I had on nature walks. Yes, she was knowledgeable about local history and early on she explained to me how to do rubbings of old faded gravestones to reveal who was buried. The many Christmas bird counts we went on, Joan wasn't able to go with us as she and Amy had to go to St. Jacob's Lutheran Church to rehearse for the Christmas Eve service. Of course, Amy played the violin on these holy nights. The many sanctuary meetings we had at the Hoffman's house were sure to have Joan's fresh baked cookies. When they had a wood burning stove in the basement, many years back, you might hear the sound of Joan tossing in more logs to keep the fire burning. God bless Ron for the love and care he has shown Joan in these last years of her life. She was a special lady.
I remember Joan as a knowledgeable, warm, and gentle lady. I met her around 2007 when she contacted my organization to sponsor a replacement bronze plaque that had been stolen from “The Boulder” on Bunkerhill Road. This marked the site where John Batteese Bernard built the first Indian trading post in Jackson County. Doug and I went to the Hoffman home to collect Joan’s research papers on the trading post. Joan invited us into a room where we looked out on the bird feeders and she told us the Juncos were just coming back for the winter. Many were at the feeders. She loved the history surrounding the area of their home.
Joan Hoffman and Harold Wing
Her memorial service will be at her beloved St. Jacob Lutheran Church on October 28. More information is available at the Mitchell Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions may be made to:
* St. Jacob Lutheran Church
* The Leslie Area Historical Society
* Alzheimer's Association