Joan Frances (Bauer) Wittwer, 73, of Stillwater, passed away Jan. 20 at her home in the loving care of her family. Viewing will take place at Strode Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m. Friday. Memorial services are 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Stillwater with the Rev. Mike Chaffin officiating. Private family burial services will be held at a later date. Strode Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Joan was born Nov. 11, 1940, in Lewis, N.Y., to George and Mary Bauer. She graduated from West Leyden Central School in 1959 and attended State University of New York at Cortland where she received a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education in 1963. Joan taught and coached in several upstate New York elementary and high school districts.
Meeting for the first time in middle school, Joan reconnected with Robert F. Wittwer when he invited her to a New Year’s Eve party in 1964. They were married June 29, 1968, in West Leyden, N.Y., and welcomed their daughter Robin. They moved to Syracuse, N.Y., where Roberta was born and Bob received a Ph.D in silviculture in 1973. That December, Bob and Joan moved to Lexington, Ky., where he held a faculty position at the University of Kentucky and where their son, Robert, was born. Joan volunteered for her children’s scouting groups, PTA, church and other local organizations.
In 1982, the family moved to Stillwater when Bob accepted a position at Oklahoma State University. Joan continued a legacy of service to her church and community. In 1984, Joan helped establish the Faith Class, a Sunday school class for the differently abled, at the First United Methodist Church and remained an integral part for nearly three decades. Joan served as a youth soccer coach, state and local PTA officer and as a founder of Stillwater Project Graduation. She was passionately involved in Special Olympics as a coach and volunteer coordinator. Joan was a steadfast advocate for the interests of differently abled individuals. For her service, she received the Donna Nigh Award for Volunteer Service and a citation from the Oklahoma House of Representatives for “unselfish and untiring contributions of time, skill and efforts to the community …”
In Stillwater, Joan worked as a substitute teacher, official for multiple youth and adult sports, habilitation specialist for differently abled adults and as an Adult Basic Education teacher. Joan was excited when parents whom she had officiated in their youth recognized her at their children’s games decades later.
Through the years, Joan found great joy as a wife, mother and grandmother. She shared her passions for sports, education, travel and history with her children and grandchildren. No matter what the obstacles, attending the grandchildren’s sporting events, school and church activities was a priority. She was proud of her Irish heritage and a highlight was a trip to Ireland with her oldest daughter. She and Bob traveled throughout the United States first with their children then to visit their grandchildren.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Douglas and Wayne Bauer and nephews Bret Hake and Justin Bauer.
Joan is survived by her husband, Robert F. Wittwer of Stillwater, Robin Swaim (Brandon) of Okeene, Roberta Sheltra (Patrick) of Twin Falls, Idaho, Robert J. Wittwer of Fayetteville, Ark., and five grandchildren, Daxton and Destry Swaim and Carson, Delaney and Wyatt Sheltra. She is survived by two sisters, Shirley Hake (Donald) of Elbridge, N.Y., and Gail LaQuay (Gerald) of West Leyden, N.Y. She also leaves brother- and sister-in-laws Fred and Peaches Wittwer, Jean Williams, Rebecca and John Marcy, and Karen Bauer, all of Boonville, N.Y., brother and 19 nieces and nephews and their families. In addition to her family, she will be greatly missed by friends, her Faith Class and students whose lives she touched beyond measure.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Joan B. Wittwer Memorial account, c/o RCB Bank, P.O. Box 1208, Stillwater, OK, 74076, to continue her legacy of giving Christmas gifts to members of the Faith Class and Stillwater Group Home residents or the Judith Karman Hospice.
Condolences may be sent and an obituary viewed by visiting www.strodefh.com