JoAnne was born March 26, 1935, in Denver, Colorado, to Worth and Hazel Sterling. Her only other sibling was her sister, Elaine, who was 4 years older. JoAnne's parents had the Sterling Jewelry Store in Aurora. Her father's health failed and he passed away when she was only 4 years of age leaving her mother to raise and care for her two daughters. Her mother's sister and husband, Ruby and Nels Olson came to Aurora and bought the jewelry store. They were supportive during the early stages of loss.
JoAnne's mother, Hazel, was a very brave lady and forged ahead vowing to make a good life for her children. During World War II, she took in boarders, received and delivered Western Union telegrams and later took Red Cross training and became the Executive Secretary of the Red Cross in Aurora, which was a monumental task during the war years. JoAnne had many fond memories of how they coped - such as in the early years, the Red Cross office was in their dining room. People would come to the front door and see the sign "Red Cross Office in the rear of the home." If they were eating a meal they would scurry around hiding their food and dishes in the oven, etc., and make the dining room into an office by the time clients got to the back door. JoAnne regarded her mother as a "saint" for all she did for the family, schools (21 years on the Board of Education), church and community work. JoAnne went through all 12 grades in the Aurora Schools. After graduation, she continued her education at the University of Colorado where she graduated with a B.S. Degree in Foods and Nutrition. While there, she enjoyed living in the AOPi Sorority House. She took a year's dietetic internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston, Texas. She returned to Aurora and was employed at St. Luke's Hospital in Denver. She remained there for 31 years - 10 years as Clinical Dietitian, and 21 years as Head of the Food and Nutrition Department.
JoAnne developed a real love for the mountains. Her parents had purchased a summer home in Evergreen and she and her sister, Elaine, loved to put their dog, Trixie, in a little doll buggy and bounce her over the Wah Keeney Park area where they lived. They became well acquainted with the "mountain residents." Those were the good ole days. The cabin has been remodeled several times and has been a wonderful "get-a-way" throughout the years. JoAnne's sister was married to John Lindquist and they soon moved to Illinois. Even though there was quite a distance in miles, she kept very close to them and their 2 children. Lori and Johnny became like "her children." Later on, their children became her pride and joy.
In 1979, JoAnne and Les Avery, the Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, started to develop a "friendship" just as he was leaving the church to go to Nigeria where he had been invited to teach at the University of Ibadan. They corresponded and he came home on summer vacations. Their releationship grew. During that time in August, 1981, JoAnne's mother passed away. It was difficult to lose her mother as well as Les being in Nigeria. JoAnne and Les were married on October 9, 1982. Les went back to Nigeria to complete his term. When he returned home, he joined the staff at Regis University. Over the years, JoAnne was involved in church work, serving as a deacon and elder, helped to start the Caring Center for homebounds, volunteered with Big Sisters, The Battered Women Shelter and 17 years as a member of the Hospital Auxiliary and was active in the American Dietetic Association.
JoAnne had a great love of animals, especially Shelties. One of the most rewarding experiences she and Les had was becoming certified with the Delta Society to do Pet Therapy with their beloved dog, Smitty. They worked with hospice patients and emotionally disturbed children. JoAnne liked to quote Roger Caras who said, "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole," and this was certainly true for them. JoAnne and Les loved to travel to various countries of the world. It made for great times and memories.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 11:30am at Aurora First Presbyterian Church, 1585 Kingston Street, followed by a graveside service at Fairmount Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in JoAnne's name to Aurora First Presbyterian Church, or a charity of your choice.