Joan Mitchell (1947 - 2015)

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Joan L. Mitchell
May 24,1947 - Dec 2, 2015
Joan L. Mitchell, who grew up in Modesto, CA, passed away peacefully on December 2, 2015.  Joan was preceded in death by her parents William and Doris Mitchell, her sister Carol and her brother Donald. She is survived by three sisters, Norma Vance, Sandy Creighton, and Linda Mayer; her sister-in-law, Nancy Walker-Mitchell; her foster brother, Michael Johnson; and her many cherished nieces and nephews. 
Joan graduated from Thomas Downey High School and recently attended her fiftieth high school reunion where she enjoyed visiting with old friends and classmates.  She received her B.S. in Physics from Stanford University in 1969 and her M.S. and PhD. degrees in Physics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 1971 and 1974, respectively.
Joan began her career in the Exploratory Printing Technologies group at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, where her early inventions in printing technology led to IBM's Selectric Quietwriter typewriter.  However, her later inventions in the field of data compression and her persistent efforts during the late 80's and early 90's as a key contributor to JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) helped revolutionize the way we are all able to send, store and print digital images. Thank you Joan!  In 1992 she co-authored a book about JPEG and later during a two-year leave of absence from IBM, she co-authored a book about MPEG and spent a semester teaching and doing research at the University of Illinois.  
Joan received many awards and honors over the years, including IBM Fellow, the 2011 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award, Leadership Award from the International Multimedia Telecommunications Consortium and the University of Illinois Distinguished Alumni Service Award, to name a few.  She is a holder of over 110 patents.
After retiring in 2009, Joan moved back home to Modesto to be close to family and friends, later moved to Las Vegas to live with her brother and sister-in-law, and most recently was living near a sister in Laguna Hills, CA.   Although Joan had challenges with vision and mobility during her last years, she never let those limitations affect her positive outlook.  As a research physicist and data compression pioneer, she leaves an amazing legacy of accomplishments that have changed the world, but her friends and family also fondly remember her for her lively imagination, her many stories, and her generous heart that sought only to bless others, and did bless them in countless ways.  She will be deeply missed.
There will be a private memorial at a future date in Yosemite National Park, one of her favorite places.
Published in the Modesto Bee on Dec. 9, 2015
bullet University of Illinois
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