Joan Martin was born November 20, 1942 in Birmingham Alabama, to Robert and Mildred Nourse. She passed away peacefully on December 30, 2012 at home, surrounded by her family. Joan was born with physical challenges that she faced with exceptional determination and strength. The word “can’t” was never in her vocabulary. Her father was a career Army Officer so she had the opportunity to live in Panama, West Point, N.Y. and Washington DC, until His Orders took the family to the Presidio in San Francisco prior to his retirement. Joan’s bedroom window gave her a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, a favorite sight all her adult life. Joan received a Bachelors Degree in Art History from Dominican University, a MS Degree in Speech Pathology and an MS in Early Childhood Education from San Francisco State University. When she graduated from San Francisco State, she was accepted a position at Crotched Mountain School for Children with special needs, located near the top of the mountain in New Hampshire. After two years she had enough of minus 35º below 0 winters, bought a car, had it modified, learned to drive, then told her dad about it and then asked him to help her drive it back to California. During her lifetime, she drove over a million miles in five different vehicles.
In 1969 she accepted a position as Speech Pathologist working with young children, at the Washington State Cerebral Palsy Center in Seattle, where she and Rob met. Joan and Rob were married in 1973. Three months after their marriage they moved to Samish Island where they have lived almost 40 years. In 1974 Joan accepted a position at the Skagit Preschool and Resource Center where she was Executive Director until her retirement in 2008. Joan also worked part time at Skagit Valley College for several years in the Early Childhood Department. During her tenure at SPARC she had the great pleasure of working with an exceptional staff and board, and the privilege of serving many families with special needs children. Joan was appointed by Governor Locke to serve on the State Interagency Coordinating Council for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities and Their Families, the ARC of Washington, was active in the Mount Vernon Rotary Club, and served as President in 1998-99. She received and the Liberty Bell Award in 2006 and May28 2008 was declared to be “Joan Martin Day” in Skagit County by the Skagit County Commissioners, in honor of her work. She received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Skagit Women Alliance Network (SWAN) in 2009. When not working, Joan enjoyed flower photography, painting, writing poetry, sewing, quilting, traveling, literary enhancement projects and spending time enjoying her favorite perch overlooking Padilla Bay.
Joan loved being part of the greater Skagit Valley Community and volunteered much of her time to causes like the United Methodist Church Outreach, Mount Vernon Rotary and The Rotary Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Skagit Early Childhood Association, where she was a founding member.
Her Parents, Col. Robert and Mildred Nourse preceded Joan in death. She is survived by her husband Rob; her beloved children, Bobby and Chris; Bobby’s wife Fa’Ana and Chris’s partner Janet and her children; Grandchildren, Jadyn and Tycean Martin; Sisters-in-Law, Peggy (Martin) and Sally (Browning), Sally was Joan’s dedicated caregiver for the past two years. Her brother, Col. Robert Nourse and his wife Anne, and their children, Cathy, Patty, Bob, and Jim Nourse and their children, also survives Joan.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 12th 2013 at the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 1607 E Division St. Mount Vernon, WA. Joan and the family would be honored if memorials were considered for SPARC, 320 Pacific Place, Mount Vernon, WA, 98273; The Rotary Foundation, 14280 Collections Center Drive Chicago, IL 60693, or any disability, or children’s charity.
The Family wishes to thank Dr. Dillard and the staff at Burlington Family Practice, Hospice of the Northwest and Skagit Valley Hospital Staff for their care and assistance during her illness.