Thursday, January 12, 2012

Joan Harvey Rohan

Joan Harvey Rohan, age 95, passed away Thursday, January 12, 2012, at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center. Daughter of Richard and Wilhelmina (Nee: Rickeman) Harvey, Joan was born on June 17, 1916, and was a lifelong resident of Racine.

Joan went to Winslow Elementary where she met her future husband, Bill Rohan. She graduated from Washington Park High School “Class of 1933.” She attended and graduated from Stephens College in Columbia, MO, in 1935. After graduation Joan lived in Racine, caring for her father and brother following her mother’s death. During this time, she took the Interurban to take classes at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee. After determining she would never earn her living as an artist, she entered Smith College in Northampton, MA, where she graduated with a degree in History of Art in 1938.

In addition to her academic studies she took flight training and earned her pilot’s license. Joan then taught History of Art and worked in the Gallery at Layton in Milwaukee. In 1941 Joan went to work in Rockford IL, for the NYA, training girls to do power sewing and work in machine shops. Later she accepted a job at WF & John Barnes, a machine tool manufacturer in Rockford, where she worked in advertising. After reading a book on engineering drafting, Joan switched positions and went into the small tools department where she designed metal-cutting tools.

On March 30, 1945, Joan was united in marriage to her longtime sweetheart, William J. Rohan. She worked for Family Service in Racine after their son, George, was born. Six years later, daughter Marcia came along. She worked for the Racine Public Library at the Mobile Library then the Uptown branch. Following her love of literature, Joan went to school at UWM to get her degree in Library Science. Then Joan worked for the Racine school district as the Knapp Elementary School Librarian until her retirement.

Joan was the most senior member of Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, and even met the Reverend Olympia Brown at the church when she was a child. She was an active member of AAUW, Preservation Racine and the RYC. She was a very active and passionate environmentalist and conservationist. Joan was a founding member of Hoy Audubon, The Kenosha/Racine Land Trust, and founding member and first president of the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund. She also was a friend of Hawthorn Hollow, River Bend, the Kenosha Museum and the Racine Public Library. She was a birder, a gardener -- both flower and vegetable (she made the best dill pickles), traveler and camper. Joan was honored with a Woman of Distinction Award by the YWCA. She will be dearly missed.

Surviving are her son, George (Stephanie) Rohan of Heathsville, VA ; her daughter, Marcia (Fred) Nicas of Long Beach, CA; sister-in-law, Josephine Rohan Longpré of Mound, MN; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and dear friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and two brothers, Thomas G and Richard G Harvey Jr.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 21, 2012, at 11 a.m. at Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church, 625 College Ave., with Reverend Dr. Tony Larson officiating. Relatives and friends may meet Friday at the funeral home from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday at the church 10 a.m. until time of service at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers memorials to Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund, the Racine Public Library, AAUW or Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church have been suggested.

The family wishes to extend a special thank you to Marsha Nelson and all those who “kept her going,” also to Wheaton Franciscan Hospice for their loving and compassionate care.

803 Main St., Racine  (262) 634-7888

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