2014-11-27 / Obituaries

Joan Ruth Sawtelle

Joan Ruth Sawtelle was born on June 9, 1940, and died on Nov. 10, 2014.

Our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister lived her final days in a house on the beach, surrounded by her family, exactly as she wanted. Joan was born in Caldwell,

Idaho to Wilma and John Gulley, with one brother, Jim Gulley. She was raised with a strong Quaker influence, and had many relatives who were ministers. A happy child who loved school, Joan especially enjoyed being a majorette and singing operetta at Clovis High School.

Joan met and married Benny Sawtelle, and together they had four children: Linda Robinson, Sharon Mizner, Kenny Sawtelle, and Janine Williams, who in turn brought Joan more joy with nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Joan spent many years researching her family heritage, and reconnected with many cousins as a result. Her interest in genealogy stems from her grandmother’s covered-wagon journey to Oregon from Oklahoma at the young age of seven. It was a story retold time and again from her treasured journal authored by her great-grandfather during that incredible journey.

Joan moved to the Sierras and enjoyed a peaceful life with her beloved dog Breezy. One of her favorite hobbies became photography, and she won multiple awards in Mariposa for her prints.

Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren really loved visiting her at that amazing “Mountain Mamma” home in Mariposa.

Joan suffered a stroke in 1992, and worked hard to regain movement in spite of her pain. According to her physical therapist, “despite the hardship, she had a fierce sense of independence.” Her positive attitude and love was a model for everyone, especially her family. Her optimism, humor and love of life allowed her to enjoy a happy existence surrounded by birds, deer and other wildlife, all in solitude.

She made us laugh and encouraged our independence. We could count on her to listen and support us in our lives and decisions. Her children and grandchildren describe her as authentic, adventurous, selfless, creative, kind, wise, funny, thoughtful, inspirational, devoted, humble, courageous, naturalist and free spirited. We could not have asked for a better mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and sister. She will be missed tremendously, but her spirit will live within all who were fortunate enough to know and love her.

Joan believed in helping women and children in need and made donations to Mariposa Manna House, Boys and Girls Club and Women's shelters.

A private memorial will be held later. Her daughter Linda can be reached at (831) 566-2136.

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