Joan Elsie Brainerd (1929 - 2018)

  • "Our condolences to the family. Dr. Brainerd was our..."
    - Melvin and Marie Mahorney
  • "To Uncle Walt & all of my loving cousins, I am so deeply..."
    - Kathy Walker

Joan Elsie (Babcock) Brainerd was born October 16th, 1929, at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento to Dr. Edward S. Babcock, the first pediatrician in Sacramento, and Blanche (Dobby) Dobson Babcock, a registered nurse, and later the Executive Secretary for the Sacramento Blood Bank. Joan was the youngest of 3 daughters. She was predeceased by sisters Phyllis and Dorothy. Joan passed away peacefully, at home, surrounded by family on June 29, 2018. A tomboy at heart, she grew up in Curtis Park, Sacramento, and attended CK McClatchy High School, participating on the swim team and playing the cornet in the marching band. She graduated in 1947. She went on to UC. Berkeley where she was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She graduated with a BA in 1951. After college she moved to San Francisco where she was employed at Franklin Hospital, working as a lab technician. On a Friday afternoon, a young doctor named Walton Brainerd walked into the lab, where the employees were enjoying a beer after work (as they did every Friday afternoon). He noticed a beautiful young woman, shoes kicked off, peering into her microscope. Six months later they were married in Sacramento, on April 11, 1953. They ended up moving to Philadelphia for a year while Walt was Chief Resident of Pediatrics at St. Christopher's Hospital and Joan worked as a bacteriologist in the lab. After a year they moved back to Sacramento, where Joan's mother resided and Walt started his practice. Joan went on to mother 5 children; Lynne (Brown), Laurie (Adcock), Nancy (Cullifer), Kirk, and Janet (Philbin). The family resided in Sacramento, in the Wilhaggin area. In the late 1960's Joan was afflicted with a life-threatening head injury, following a ski accident. After surgery, she had the arduous task of regaining her memory, speech, and reading skills. She did so with determination and resolve, as she did with everything in life. Eventually she recovered, but the episode affected her motor skills and balance for the remainder of her life. It changed her way of life significantly as she was not able to further pursue her beloved athletic endeavors. She made the best of it and moved forward. She was an inspiration to all that witness-ed her overcome this challenge. As a physician's wife, she dedicated her time to support the Sacramento/El Dorado Medical Society Auxiliary. Over a 30 year span, she was chairman for numerous committees and projects, such as Community Service, Drug Abuse, Community Health, Project Learn, Sacramento Cooks, Hop-Scotch Program and so many projects, too many to list. She was awarded the Dorothy Dozier Helping Hands Award twice, once in 1981 and in 1994. As an outstanding Auxiliary member, she was chosen for this award due to her longstanding, consistent contribution to the organization. She was very supportive of her family, the Auxiliary, and the community. She also contributed her time and resources to the local library. She was an avid reader. She also received recognition for her major contributions for the development of "Community Resources for Older Adults Guide". After she "retired", she poured her energy into learning computer skills and always had the latest Mac. She joined MacNexus and made many friends and thoroughly enjoyed this hobby. She was always willing to help anyone. Her last major project was compiling family pictures scanned on her computer, all in chronological order, accompanied by music. Her proudest achievement though was her family for which she was so dedicated and loving. All 5 of her children still live within close proximity to the family home and she enjoyed years of family gatherings. Her family meant everything to her, and she meant the world to us. She will be remembered for her thoughtfulness, always putting everyone before herself; she was selfless, resilient, dedicated, loving, and a wonderful mother and wife. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Walton Brainerd, her 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Per her request, no services will be held. Donations may be made to the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance. CBBC
Published in The Sacramento Bee from July 14 to July 15, 2018