JoAnn Spencer was the first child of Howard and Patricia Spencer of Guilford, CT; born October 9, 1948. She enjoyed a happy and full childhood in Guilford and, after graduation from Guilford High School, moved to New York to study at Wagner College and work in Manhattan. At Wagner she met and married Bill Richards. They moved to southern California and later Santa Rosa, and separated in 1975. Joining Hewlett-Packard in 1976, JoAnn became a semiconductor process technician, working in the facility's Gallium Arsenide wafer fab. JoAnn met and married Dick Puttbach, a brilliant engineer and aspiring winemaker. Dick and JoAnn started Sugarloaf Ridge Winery which achieved considerable critical acclaim before Dick's untimely death in 1990. In October of 1991 JoAnn married Val Peterson and they were blessed with a precious daughter, Nora, in 1993. Throughout Nora's childhood JoAnn continued to work 3/4 time at Hewlett-Packard (later Agilent), supporting both R&D and manufacturing programs; she loved her work. Being a mom was a tremendous joy for JoAnn and she participated enthusiastically in every childhood activity. At the end of Nora's junior year of high school, JoAnn was diagnosed with a very rare form of leukemia. She was advised that bone marrow transplant was the only hope of cure. JoAnn was able to delay transplant until Nora had completed high school and was established at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She underwent transplant in November of 2011, which was ultimately unsuccessful. The disease then progressed much more rapidly, leading to her death on August 4, 2012. JoAnn was precious to many people for her wit, love of conversation, love of science, and great intellectual curiosity. One could count on her to stop along a hike and pick apart scat to see what the coyotes and raccoons had been eating. She was fascinated by epidemiology and collected every book written on viral apocalypses. She was a voracious reader and loved movies, her animals, and gardening. She was an outstanding cook and hostess. JoAnn was an active and committed member of St. Luke Lutheran Church, and also served on the school board for the St. Luke K-8 school. She died in faith and now rests in the arms of Jesus. JoAnn is survived by her siblings Brian Spencer, David Spencer, and Wendy Johnson, all of Connecticut, and by her husband Val and daughter Nora, of Glen Ellen, CA, as well as several nieces and nephews and cousins. A memorial service is scheduled at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Santa Rosa, for Sunday, August 26 at 2:00 p.m., followed by appetizers and wine. Memorials can be made to St. Luke for the community high school breakfast program or the K-8 school. DANIELS CHAPEL OF THE ROSES FUNERAL AND CREMATION SERVICES 707-525-3730
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Published in the Press Democrat from August 8 to August 13, 2012