JoAn I. Childers

JoAn I. Childers


July 16, 1937 – Dec. 21, 2010

After a brief illness, lung cancer took the life but not the spirit of this remarkable, generous woman. JoAn, “Jo”, was born in Terry, MT and raised in Yakima, WA; she was an active, adventurous youngster with a love of singing. She graduated from Yakima HS and Central Washington University where she met the love of her life, Bill; they were married 50 years. The couple lived in Tacoma where both taught for the Bethel School District.

Mrs. Childers became a well-known Language Arts teacher at Bethel Jr. High and Cedarcrest where she taught for 37 years. Known for her high standards and her wry sense of humor, Mrs. Childers had a commanding yet entertaining presence in the classroom. Few took greater pleasure diagramming a sentence, and her red correcting pencil was always close at hand! Jo was an accomplished teacher; she attained her masters degree and was the recipient of numerous commendations, including several Teacher of the Year awards.

In recent years, Jo dedicated her time to her family. For years she selflessly cared for her mother-in-law and then her own ageing mother, endearing herself to the residents and staff at King’s Manor in the process. She and Bill were actively involved with WA Antique Carousel Society (Bill was a carver for the carousel at Pt. Defiance). Jo had a special affinity for children and pets; she always carried treats for both. But Jo was most proud of her two “girls” and her two grandchildren whom she cherished.

Jo and Bill masterfully created a beautifully landscaped home on 2.5 acres of wetlands. They both treasured the beauty of their home and it gave Jo particular solace these past two years.

Jo was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Bill. She is survived by daughters Christine (Jim) Childers Rogers and Cheryl (Doug) Sayed; grandchildren Cailin and Connell Rogers; sister Delores (Buck) Wheat; brother Reuben (Carole) Naasz, sister-in-law Claire (Rich) MacDonald; numerous nieces and nephews; and dear cat companion Olivia.

Special thanks to Dr.’s Carlos and Hunter and the amazing staff at Evergreen hospital, including Evergreen Hospice and especially nurse Jimmy whose kindness and competence were tremendously appreciated.

In lieu of flowers, remembrance gifts can be made to the Humane Society, or to the Childers Carousel Endowment Fund at the Zoo Society, 5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, WA 98407.

20 Responses to “JoAn I. Childers”

  • Doug Sayed says:

    Jo was a wonderful person and mother in-law (she was my self-described “Mother Outlaw”). Her time on earth and our time time together was cut far to short far to fast, but I will cherish knowing her and the times we had together.

    I love you Jo. Next time I see you, I’ll bring a some high calorie fatty foods for you to chow down on, my man bag, and a very small bottle of water for you.

    Love from your son in-law,

    Doug Sayed

  • Jean Harelson (Farmer) says:

    I knew Jo and Bill when I was in junior high school back in the 60’s. I loved both of them. They were great teachers and I even babysat for them several times. I know they will both be missed

  • gary l. jackson says:

    A great girl! I went all the way through school with
    JoAn and graduated in 1955. I was happy to read of her accomplishments. She was a major contributer to our world!

  • Lonnie and Myrna Davis says:

    Jo was one of our classmates in High School and a good friend, she always attended our re-unions and had a good time with us. She had attended our last re-union in September and had a good time with us all. She will always be missed by all of our classmates and I am sure her last trip will be good for her.

    Lonnie and Myrna Davis

  • Cleo Adeline Rumpakis says:

    JoAn always had a smile. I should know since we graduated from Yakima Hi together in 1955 and Central Washington in 1959. I will miss seeing her at our high school reunions. May her memory be eternal.

  • Randy Williamson says:

    I knew JoAn mainly from Choir at Yakima High School. We both graduated in the Class of 1955. It’s heartwarming to read of her accomplishments in life. I fondly remember those “musical moments” from so long ago.

  • Jane Peters says:

    This very witty and lovely lady will be missed! She and Bill were in college with my husband and I when we were all very young newlyweds and very poor. We spent some fun evenings together during that time, making our own entertainment with lots of laughter. Good memories! Jo was one of the most pleasant and sincere friends anyone could have. She and Bill are together again in that better place. Love you, Jo!

  • Grace Miller says:

    I didn’t know Jo very well. I saw her only at our WA Antique Carousel Society activities. Even though most of our conversations were brief, I could tell that she was a clever, loving, fun person who enjoyed humor. She loved her family and people in general. I enjoyed her company and we made plans for this summer. As I participate in those activities, her memory will be with me. Goodbye dear friend. Grace

  • Nancy Knorr-Renick says:

    Mrs. Childers was my Language arts teacher while I was a Student at Cedarcrest Junior High. I learned so much from her! Her amazing way’s of teaching her students made learning fun which made us want to learn. She was the greatest teacher I had for language arts. She will be missed and in our memories alway’s. Thank you Mrs. Childers for all you love and compassion you gave us while teaching. You will be missed!! Nancy Knorr

  • Lynn Wilkens Anderson says:

    Jo was such a warm individual, with a loving heart. She left her mark in this world, leaving it a better place because of her presence here. We will miss her at our upcoming HS class reunions, but will be able to look forward to THE GRAND reunion with her again someday. RIP, Jo. Blessings to your family left behind.

  • Valerie Hjelmaa says:

    I knew JoAn only from assisting with her at her dentist appointments. I always had a smile when I saw that I would be able to visit with her during an appointment she would have. My 1st husband passed away shortly before her husband and we shared a great compassion for each other and the loss of our husbands. She always remembered details of my life and asked me for updates. I truly can say I loved her even though our connection on earth was brief. I wanted to let her daughters, son in laws and grandchilren know that she thought and spoke highly about them and with great pride and love. She talked a lot about you all and you could see in her eyes the spark she carried for each of you. My deepest condolences.

  • Valerie Hjelmaa says:

    I am an assistant at Dr. Ehlen’s dental office. I wanted to express my deepest condolences. Your mom was truly special and made others feel that way when we were around her. She loved you, her family, and spoke with high regard about you all. I am truly saddened for your losss.

  • Kari (Kiehn) Bradley says:

    Oh boy, this is such sad news. Mrs. Childers was my Language Arts teacher at CJH 94-96 (I had her two years). Jo is the reason I’m an English teacher today: she was a total personality with intelligency, class, fun, and talent all rolled into one. She made English entertaining and made the students want to do well. To this day I always try to locate the onomatopoeia song (she played for us on record!) when I teach onomatopoeia with my students. 😉

    I am lucky I have a constant reminder of Jo and that’s the inspiration she inherently provided for me to study English and become a teacher. Jo and Bill were also guests and my wedding in July 2007, where they were victorious in the anniversary dance. 🙂 I know Jo will be missed by generations of students and staffs. My condolences to her family and dear friends. What a wonderful legacy she leaves behind!

  • Rose Dalton says:

    To my beloved Jo Childers,
    In life we loved you dearly, in death we love you still. In my heart you hold a memory no one else will fill. It broke my heart to lose you, but you didn’t go alone, part of me went with you the day God took you home. God saw you getting weary, he did what he thought best. He put his arms around you and whispered come and rest. The Golden gate was open on that heartbreaking day, and with feeling unspoken you gently slipped away. My life goes on without you, but nothing is the same. We have to hid our heartache when someone speaks your name. Sad are the heart that love you, silent are the tears that fall; living without you is the hardest part of all. You did so many things for me, you were so kind and true and when I needed someone I could always count on you. The special years will not return when we are all together, but with the love in our hearts YOU will walk with us forever.
    Missing you,
    Godmother Rose Dalton

  • Carolyn Simon says:

    To Jo,
    Thank you so much for your interest in mine and my childrens life. You treated us like family from day one. You were a big help to my brother and I when things went awry.You are a lovely woman with a lovely family and I am so glad to have known you.
    Carolyn, Adam & Joey Simon

  • Asta Tobiassen says:

    I met Jo through her cat Olivia. I was Olivia’s veterinarian. I always enjoyed the days I got to see Jo and Olivia. Jo was such a wonderful, caring person. I felt a very strong connection to Jo, which I think, in part, stems from our commitment to our furry family members. I will miss Jo and her beautiful smile so very much.

  • Harriott Balmer says:

    Wally and I are so sorry to hear of the loss of Jo. She was one neat lady! I knew Jo and Bill from Bethel days when she taught with my mom, Betty Fix. We continued our friendship and Wally and Bill exchanged barber stories from Bill’s dad. Wally and Bill always appreciated each other’s creativity and Bill was one who encourage me to go into insurance sales after teaching. The two of them showed us what a marriage and home should be. The family is in our thoughts and prayers. Harriott and Wally Balmer

  • Jon Holdaway says:

    I knew Jo as a colleague at Cedarcrest. She was simply the finest and most dedicated teacher I’ve ever known. She will be sorely missed.

  • Bill White says:

    Only a handful of teachers leave such an impression that you remember them vividly, 35 years later. Mrs. Childers is one of those people. She was my English teacher at Bethel Jr. High, back in the mid 70’s. She was a strict, but caring teacher. Before hearing the sad news off her passing, just today, if someone would have asked me to name any of my middle school teachers, only Mrs. Childers name would come to mind. She left a great impression on me and no doubt on many others. My life is better for having had her as a teacher.

  • Gailene (smith) Mast says:

    I was a student of Mrs. Childers at CJH in 82-83. She was an amazing teacher and everything I learned about English I learned from her. In fact, I am pretty sure my compulsion for spelling and correct language usage is inspired by her.
    To say she had a commanding presence in class is an understatement. I would of never considered misbehaving in class because I knew she meant business.
    Mainly, I never doubted for one minute her genuine care and concern for me as a student.
    I am truly sad at the loss of such an amazing lady.

    Fondly- Gailene M.

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