Joan Ruth Hart passed away on February 24, 2020 in Jackson, MI, after touching the lives of many. She was a mother who deeply loved her children. She was a professional woman in an era when that was a challenge. She was a loyal friend to people of all ages and walks of life. Born January 26, 1924 in Jackson to loving parents Harry and Ivah Dunfee, Joan led a life full of warmth, adventure and happiness. She spent her childhood on Pleasant Lake, canoeing with her beloved Boston terrier Boots standing lookout on the bow. After graduating from Jackson High in 1942 she met her future husband, Bill Hart. She spent two very happy years attending Michigan State University before World War II called Bill to the Navy and they moved to Newport, RI then Portsmouth, VA. After the war they relocated to Niles and Youngstown, OH, where son Jim and daughter Bonny were born. After returning to Jackson, they moved in 1955 to the beloved family farm in Leslie. Son Timothy (deceased) was born in 1956.
Joan was active in the Jackson, Pleasant Lake and Leslie communities, making a loving home for her children, entertaining friends and hosting kids of all ages at the farm, offering the barn for basketball games and dances. Many of the young people who met her there became her lifelong friends. She served on the Leslie school board, volunteered at the hospital in Jackson, and attended Lansing Community College, where she studied for a real estate license. In the 1970s and 80s, Joan worked at the American Cancer Society and as executive secretary at the Harley Hotel, both in Lansing. She moved back to Pleasant Lake, spending many happy years sharing lake views and sunsets with loved ones both four-legged and two. Later in life Joan enjoyed travelling, forming shared memories with her children and friends while visiting France, Spain, Alaska, and many other U.S destinations. Joan had a remarkable ability to connect with others, offering friendship when it was most needed. She was a mother to not only her own children but to many others. She nurtured connections dating back to childhood alongside those that blossomed late in her life. Joan is survived by her son Jim (Martha) Hart of Cedarville, MI and daughter Bonny Hart (Paul Share) of New York, NY; cousin John (Janet) Boland of Pleasant Lake; nieces Valerie Hart of Albuquerque, NM and Diane Tisue of San Diego, CA and nephew John Clemons of Phoenix, AZ; goddaughters Shelley (Phil) Zalewski of South Lyon, MI, Amy (Danny) Weis of Nashville, TN, Paula (Bob) Valeri of Pittsford, NY; 'adopted' son Kerry Frey of Leslie; and many 'honorary' children and grandchildren and dear friends.
Joan's final wish was to say thanks for a lifetime of kindnesses. For inviting her to see the world. Taking her out for a weekly lunch and manicure. Making sure she always had beautiful, fresh flowers. Visiting every Sunday. Spending painstaking hours carving a wooden gift. Going above and beyond to keep her house clean while keeping her company. Minding her financial affairs. Making it possible to live her last years in comfort from the sale of her home. Sharing holy water, prayers and the family dog. Traveling hundreds or thousands of miles just to see her. She was so grateful for the love and kindness. A celebration of Joan Hart's life will take place on Sunday, March 15 from 1 pm to 4 pm at Cascades Manor House, Jackson, MI.
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