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Johanna Marie Bridget Dunn

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Johanna Marie Bridget Dunn Obituary
Johanna Marie Bridget Dunn

Stevensville, MT - Johanna Marie Bridget Dunn, 67, of Stevensville, Montana passed away on Friday, July 27, 2018 in the quiet beauty of the Bitterroot Valley and surrounded by her loved ones. As the most stunning full moon imaginable flooded the fields outside her window, her long and hard battle with cancer ended.

Jo was raised in the South End of Burlington. As a child she could run faster, whistle louder, and jump higher than anyone else. She lasted longest on a pogo stick or with a hula hoop. She loved to sing and was the first female vocalist in the neighborhood. She took the lead on stage at twelve years old and loved every minute of it, and as a teenager took the house down with her heartfelt and soulful version of "White Rabbit". At a time when there was music plentiful in the backyards and garages on every street, Jo was the only female on the scene. She loved every genre of music and kept a deep love in her heart for the ones she shared this with: Bruce McKenzie, Kenny Desautels, Kathy Hayes Desautels, Steve Goodrich, Rob Laffin, and the Abairs, among others.

Jo was raised by her Mom, and lacking a father figure she found "Mr. Abair", the late General Leo R. Abair. He had nine children and told Jo that she was like his tenth child. It meant the world to her and she never forgot it. He encouraged her to sing, playing his piano to accompany her. He laughed so hard he cried at her jokes and silliness. Jo was an official member of The Cellar Dwellers, a group of youngsters that bonded like family and gathered in the basement of 83 Charlotte Street, Mr. Abair's home. Jo was missed greatly during the summer months when she headed to Montgomery, Vermont to be with her beloved cousins, the Saulters, and when she left for her annual stay at Camp Holy Cross. Life just wasn't the same without her.

It's been said that Jo may have missed her calling as a standup comedian. She could make anyone laugh and would do just about anything to make it happen. If while walking down the street with her she disappeared, you might find her in a store window posing as a mannequin, or dancing with a statue, or juggling with a street performer.

Jo attended Christ The King School, Mater Christi, Rice Memorial High School and The Fanny Allen School of Nursing. Jo's mother was a great inspiration to her and Jo was proud to become a nurse, carrying on her mother's ministry. Jo was named after Johannah Mahoney Leddy, RN, her mother's instructor and mentor. Following the completion of her nurses training in 1971, Jo moved to Missoula, Montana, where she gave birth to her daughter Brit and son Clancy.

Her early professional career was multifaceted. She worked in hospitals, clinics, home-health settings, and extended care facilities. Later in life, Jo applied her nurturing warm heart and skill to occupations including juvenile case manager and preschool teacher. Her colorful and magnetic personality made it possible for her to successfully work with a variety of people and bring a spirit of optimism to their circumstances.

Jo designed and embroidered beautiful hats and blankets, made earrings, and painted pictures. She was a strong song writer who played guitar and wrote sweet melodies and powerful lyrics. She traveled across the country on horse hauls and fell in love with William, a rescue horse that thrived under her care. She loved her pets, to dance, eat chocolate, read, watch birds, and float on the river. She loved the Sisters of Mercy and joked that she should have been a nun.

She is preceded by her parents and her eldest sister Maureen, her uncles, aunts and cousins Michael and Peter Saulters.

Jo is survived by her daughter Brittany Briggs and husband Tim of Seattle, WA, her son Clancy Mickelson and wife Erika of Missoula, MT, two grandchildren, Hadley and Jack, sister Peggy, and brother Bill. She leaves her nephews Bill and Brian Savage, her cousins Mary Richardson, Prudy Ryea, and Jay Saulters and her lifelong Burlington friends: Carol Abair, Mary Albarelli and Carolyn Cain Breiner. Jo will be missed daily by her close Montana friends, Shannon, Jo's horse hauling buddy, Lorraine, Jo's weekly crafting partner, Sue, who put Jo in her place when she was being outrageous, and Jim who was in love with her and always will be.

Funeral services were held Saturday, August 4, 2018 in Stevensville Montana.
Published in The Burlington Free Press on Aug. 11, 2018
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