JoAnn Lewis, 97, passed peacefully into eternal rest in Hospice care at the Holmstad in Batavia, Illinois, on Sunday, July 21, 2019. She was born in Peoria, Illinois, the oldest child of the late Glenn and Verna Steiner, who later moved to Aurora, Illinois, which became the long-time family home. She was predeceased by her husband of over 68 years, Phillip A. Lewis; her sister Roberta and brother William; and sons Paul (Edana) Lewis and Johnson Lewis. She is survived by four children--Brad (Cathy) Lewis, Linda Lewis (Stephen Smith), Scott Lewis (Camille Witos), and DeAnn Lewis (Henry Coll); six grandchildren--Will Lahvic (Jennifer), Tobias Smith, Elizabeth "Beth" (Matthew) Jackson, JoAnna Lewis, Walter Lewis, and Mary Kate (Colin) Gibbons; and four great-grandchildren--David, Aaron, and Nathan Jackson and Jackson Lahvic.
After graduating from West High School in Aurora, she earned her Bachelor's degree, with a major in Sociology, from Aurora College, and later earned a Master's degree in Public Health from Yale University, subsequently serving as a public health professional during World War II in southern Illinois.
JoAnn and Phil lived and worked briefly in Duluth, Minnesota after World War II. Shortly thereafter, with a growing family, they lived in Aurora, Illinois; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Kansas City, Missouri; Mt. Pleasant, Iowa; Meerut, India; Hastings, Nebraska; New Wilmington, Pennsylvania; and Medan, Indonesia. They then retired back in Aurora, later moving to the Holmstad in Batavia, Illinois.
JoAnn was actively involved in speech and drama for much of her life, teaching speech in college for a time; writing and producing shows, including some local productions at the Holmstad after her retirement; and for three years in Nebraska hosting commercial radio and TV programs under the stage name "Mehitabel."
JoAnn was a prolific reader (and an active member of the Minerva Coterie book club in Aurora, founded in 1882) and enjoyed vigorous conversations. She was generally actively involved in various civic endeavors, wherever she was. She was a hospitable hostess, welcoming into her home friends from the neighborhood and from afar, ranging from children and grandchildren and their young friends to overseas visitors.
JoAnn and Phil moved their whole family from Iowa to India in 1964-65 when Phil had a Fulbright Lectureship at Meerut College, and they spent two years (1986-88) as Lutheran missionaries to Nommensen University in Medan, Indonesia. This fit with their life-long enjoyment of both domestic and international travel, often with other family members, in the United States, Europe, and Asia, especially after their retirement.
For most of her adult life, JoAnn was an active member of Methodist churches in the family's varied locales, and locally in her youth and after moving back to retire in Aurora, an active member of Wesley Methodist Church in Aurora.
A memorial service at the Holmstad in Batavia, Illinois (700 W. Fabyan Parkway) will be held on Friday, August 16 at 2:00 pm, in the Commons Auditorium Chapel, with a reception with refreshments in the nearby Gathering Space following the service. All are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Holmstad Benevolence Fund (c/o the Holmstad, 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia, IL 60510) or to Aurora University (by check to 347 Gladstone Avenue, Aurora, IL 60506, attn. Lori Steiner; or online at https://aurora.edu/give