Joann W. Aalfs, 97, of Northampton, died on February 3 at Linda Manor surrounded by loved ones. Her last words were "Thank You." Her joyful spirit lives on. As Kahlil Gibran expressed, "it's not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean." Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 29, 1923, she was an only child with many friends. She received a BA from Bennington College, and took graduate classes at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. Artist, educator, feminist and civil rights activist, Joann enjoyed a generous life of learning, laughing, and sharing her compassionate gifts. Beloved mother and friend, she taught her children to love and create art, to question the status quo, and to work for justice for all.
Joann was a community-builder. Improvising at the piano in Linda Manor's lobby, she would take time to converse with people and thank them for listening. She was a visual artist who created paintings, puppets, hooked yarn tapestries, and luminous flower gardens; a pianist, singer, and rhythm-maker; a graceful mover who delighted in outdoor activities; and a scholar who delved into a wide variety of topics. She was involved in organizing women's consciousness-raising groups in the western MA area, and also in New Bedford, MA where she was a founding member of a women's center in 1972. Joann is listed in an extensive resource book entitled Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975. She was a participant and longtime member of Valley Women's Martial Arts in Easthampton, the Northampton Music School, the Senior Center, the River Valley Coop, lesbian potluck discussion groups, and more.
Joann is pre-deceased by her former husband, John Aalfs, and by her daughter, Linden Aalfs Welch. She is survived by her son Mark Aalfs and wife Bernadette Joolen of Seattle, WA; grandson Homer Aalfs of Seattle, WA; son Tom Aalfs of Cornwall, NY; grandson Daniel Aalfs of Wasilla, AK; daughter Janet Aalfs and wife Janis Totty of Northampton, MA; and longtime cherished friends.
Joann's family wishes to extend huge gratitude to staff and residents of Linda Manor in Leeds for the skillful loving care and friendships that inspired her to blossom into the last years of her life.
In lieu of flowers, memorial charitable donations may be made of one's choice.
Ahearn Funeral Home
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 12, 2021.