Joan Marie Stephenson peacefully passed on May 5, 2021, in the presence of her family after battling breast cancer for over 20 years. Joan was born on June 10, 1950, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the daughter of Warren Troyer Smart and Katherine Peterson. She attended Indiana University, Bloomington, where she received a BS and MS in education, and certification as a reading specialist. After graduation she was the Title 1 reading specialist for an Indianapolis area school system.
Joan met the love of her life, her husband, Gregory L. Stephenson, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After completing their degrees at Indiana University, Bloomington, Joan and Greg spent several years in Indianapolis, Indiana and Dallas, Texas, before relocating to Great Falls, Virginia. Joan is survived by her husband of 48 years, Gregory L Stephenson of Great Falls, daughter Lisa M (Dr. David) Dexter of Virginia Beach VA, son Justin T (Sarah) Stephenson of Dallas, TX, and sister Sally (Dr. Robert) Ellison of Fort Wayne, IN. Her grandchildren are Madison M Dexter, Dylan J Dexter and Troyer E Stephenson.
Joan led a rich and full life while valiantly fighting breast cancer and multiple sclerosis. She enjoyed the small things in life and had a hungry appetite to travel and see the world. Joan and Greg traveled extensively throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean Islands. She instilled this passion in her children and grandchildren.
Joan was an extremely motivated genealogist, assembling a massive family tree extending to the earliest days of this country and beyond to the United Kingdom and Europe. To Joan, genealogy was not just names and dates, she wanted to get to know the people and to understand why they did what they did and how they must have felt. She was also an avid reader. This passion led her to assemble a collection of first or very early printings of the classic children’s books by her favorite authors.
Any future genealogist wanting to “know” Joan will conclude that in addition to being a loving wife, mother and grandmother who loved life, she was a tenacious disease fighter. The past 20 years were a gift of the doctor who happened, out of curiosity, to read the mammogram that Joan had been told showed she was cancer free. She made the most of it, being able to lead a full productive life for those years; seeing Lisa and Justin both marry and have children. While she will be greatly missed, her life will be celebrated by all who’s lives where touched by her and who loved her.
Memorial donations can be made to Breast Cancer Research Foundation – give.bcrf.org