Cover photo for Joann Wickstrom's Obituary
Joann Wickstrom Profile Photo
1933 Joann 2022

Joann Wickstrom

September 6, 1933 — November 17, 2022

JoAnn Wickstrom. Born September 6th, 1933. Died November 17th, 2022, age 89.

Born in Newton, Kansas, Jo was a talented thespian and actively participated in high school plays and debate.

After earning her BA in English, she received a Masters in Communications from the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She taught speech both at Wichita State University and in high schools before having children. 

Jo married Ralph Wickstrom in 1957. They moved to Ripon in 1961 when Ralph accepted a position as a full professor at Ripon College. Several years later she began using her extensive skills to edit his books.

Jo had a passion for teaching and art which led her to create the “Art Presenter Program” for children in 1st through 5th grade. She raised funds for framed replicas of famous paintings and found willing volunteers to present a new piece to each class every month. The program introduced art to many students who would not otherwise have been exposed to the masters. 

Jo loved to travel and made a commitment to take a trip overseas once a year whenever possible. After Ralph retired, the two followed their dream of spending several months each year really getting to know areas of Europe—Scotland, England, and countries that were then behind the “Iron Curtain”.

A voracious reader, Jo also was very passionate about the Public Library. She was the current President and had been a member of the Library Ladies for over 25 years. 

A life-long learner, Jo was also a member of the Ripon Study Club and the American Association of University Women, in which she was heavily engaged.

Her family fondly called her “The Puzzler” because of her love of, or rather addiction to, crossword puzzles. There was rarely a Sunday that went by when she was not deeply engrossed in the New York Times crossword, and she almost always finished them with a flourish.

In retirement, she supported her husband’s love of creating welded metal sculpture by developing relationships with various art organizations and procuring space for his work in over 20 different galleries in WI, MI and TN.

Recently she was spending more time in Eau Claire and Nashville, enjoying being surrounded by family and grandchildren. She loved “puppy parties” with her grand dog in Nashville, making new friends, trying new foods, and went on her first camping/ hiking trips this summer. In July she was over the moon with excitement to spend a week with her first great-grandchilld.

Jo is survived by her daughters Beverly Wickstrom (Dana Wachs), and
Lisa O’Dell (James), 5 grandchildren and one great grandson (for whom she proudly named herself GG Jo).

A celebration of life for Jo and Ralph (who died at the start of the pandemic) will be held in the late spring. 

If you would like to memorialize Jo, the family suggests donations to the Ripon Public Library or the charity closest to your heart.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joann Wickstrom, please visit our flower store.


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