Joanne Marie Yeaton
Nov 18, 1948 - Jan 26, 2021
Joanne Marie Yeaton died on January 26, 2021 at her home in Berkeley, CA after a brief battle with recurrent breast cancer, surrounded by her loving family and friends.
Joanne was born on November 18, 1948 in Newton, NJ to George and Marie Yeaton, who bred and showed crossbred hunter ponies and dalmatians. Her birth was proudly announced as the family's newest filly, and her hospital bill was paid for by selling dalmatian puppies. Joanne had a free-range childhood with her younger brother Jeff on Bittersweet Valley Farm in rural Newton. She grew up as a yes-I-can farmgirl and carried that attitude with her throughout her life.
Eager to see the world outside of Newton, Joanne enrolled at Smith College, where she began her studies in psychology. She found the environment at Smith to be too conservative and, after two years, left for Yale University, where she joined the first coed class to graduate from the 270-year-old institution. Following graduation in 1971, Joanne moved to Colorado and knit her way through the classes required for her Masters of Social work at Denver University. She then headed further west to California to begin what would be a nearly 40-year career at Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland where she provided pediatric psychotherapy and biofeedback and mentored generations of pediatric mental health providers.
Joanne was always creative, drawing and painting things in her world, but did not identify as an artist until she participated in an expressive painting class in her late thirties. After this experience, she delved deeply into her artistic life working with multiple mediums including paint, sculpture, collage, and printmaking. She readily shared her talents with others through teaching, participating in East Bay Open Studios, and publishing an annual calendar of her favorite pieces to gift to friends and family.
Her explorations with creativity and expression eventually brought her to a retreat led by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist, which Joanne described as 'life changing.' This laid the groundwork for what would become a lifelong daily Vipassana Buddhist meditation practice.
Joanne swam throughout her life, and after her first breast cancer diagnosis, began participating in the annual Swim-a-Mile fundraiser for the Women's Cancer Resource Center, raising nearly $30,000 across the 8 years she swam. She picked up dancing in her later years, including country two-step, swing, and line dancing. Joanne was a voracious reader and loved word games; in a quiet moment she could often be found in the middle of an intense game of Words with Friends on her phone.
Immensely loyal and loving, Joanne was confidante, cheerleader, critic, and companion to friends and family alike.
Joanne is survived by her wife Ellie Waxman, daughter Amanda (Sha Sha) Yeaton-Massey, son David (Jennifer) Yeaton-Massey, brother Jeff Yeaton, former husband Joe Massey, stepdaughter Zoe Frankel, grandchildren Simon and Willow, and many more family and friends.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21, 2021.