Lemley Chapel
Serving Sedro-Woolley &
All of Skagit County Since 1935
1008 Third Street
Sedro-Woolley, WA
Joan Martin Memorial
Joan Martin Memorial

Joan Martin

Joan Martin

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

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.


  • ann and dan rasar

    We knew Joan well all the years our kids were growing up together. Rob was their coach and Joan their cheerleader. She was a wonderful lady, very confident and cabable of doing just about anything she set her mind to doing. We always admired the way she and Rob were a team, and the children part of it as well. We will miss her presence on Samish Island.. She will always be remembered as such a great inspiration to anyone who ever lived with any kind of disability, she lived he life to the fullest. We are sorry for your loss Rob, Bobby, Chris and families.
    Dan and Ann Rasar

  • Consuelo Guandique

    It seems like I’d known her forever intelligent, inspirational, compassionate, dedicated and of beautiful spirit are some of the thoughts that describe the woman that we knew and admired. I had never met anyone like Joan she had a peace and beauty within that touched many and a love for children that inspired her work. My prayers to Rob and family I’m blessed to have known her.
    Consuelo Guandique

  • William Crouse

    It was so nice to run into Joan and Rob a couple of times recently, especially now that Joan is no longer with us. Joan touched a lot of people, and her legacy will live on with her family and friends. We will miss you Joan.

    Bill Crouse

  • David Bricka

    Joan was such a champion for the children of the world! Her smile lit up the room and she always had such kind and caring words and thoughts to share. My deepest condolences to you and your family Rob as you mourn her death. May your memories sustain you. I will be out of town on Saturday so am unable to attend her service. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Peace to you dear friend.

  • Wendy Randall

    I feel privileged to have known Joan,even just a little bit. Her dedication and contributions to others is admirable. My prayers are with you, Rob, and your family.

  • Phil McConnell

    Joan exemplified the power of what one dedicated and passionate person can do. She made such a wonderful and positive difference in the lives of others, making the world a better place for all. Rob- our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this sad time.

  • The Gilkey Family

    A great lady is now at peace and though we will miss Joan, we are so thankful to have had her in our lives. The life Joan lived here on earth was a wonderful example for each of us. She taught three generations of our family how to look past physical limitations to the heart of each individual we come in contact with. Thank you Joan for all your wonderful lessons.

    Our love and prayers to Rob, Bobby and Chris,
    Leslie, Kris and Keelin Gilkey
    Helena, Montana

  • Maggie Potter

    Dear Rob and Family, Wishing you much peace and pleasure in having all the wonderful things about Joan recorded. She left a wonderful warmth with everyone she touched and inspired so many to be better, more than they dreamed they ever could be. She outshown us all and will be remembered well.

  • Connie Bonner-Britt

    Joan was one of the most inspirational people I have had the privilege to work with. Compassionate and intelligent, she was dedicated to the children and families in our community and beyond. Using the most up to date research, Joan courageously led in collaborating with families and professionals to meet the developmental needs of young children for many years.

  • Joan Youngquist

    Joan was such an incredible person and an inspiration to everyone who knew her. I was so fortunate to have her as a colleague and collaborator when she was Director of SPARC. She was a marvelous role model and mentor in many ways. Joan’s light has not gone from this world but lives on in the many lives she touched.

  • Doug and Judy Argyle

    We met Joan in 1978 when our daughter started SPARC. Joan was helpful and kind in helping get the information and resources we needed to become informed about how best to help Ann. Words cannot fully express how much we appreciated her support and wisdom through the years.
    Joan was very kind and gentle, she had a gift for making people feel at ease. As Rob said her legacy will long outlive her.

    The Argyle Family

  • Bob & Maureen Lama

    Rob – our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Joan was a wonderful woman who touched many lives. She will be missed.

  • Stephanie Del Bosque Munro

    Rob and family, I am so sorry for your loss. Joan was an exceptional woman. I had worked in the field of Developmental Disabilities for 30 years and have had the privilege of working with Joan in a few situations. She always had a great way of making people and children feel at ease and did not let her own disabilities stand in her way. I will always remember her loving smile and her knack for caring for others. She will be greatly missed.

    Stephanie Del Bosque Munro
    Surrey, BC
    (formerly Skagit and Snohomish Counties)

  • Steve Morach

    Rob and family.
    I was so sorry to hear of Joan’s passing. I know that she was very dedicated to helping others. She will be missed.

  • Kathy Boudinot- Johnson

    I worked for Joan as a teacher at SPARC in the 70’s. I still teach special education today in CA and use some of the knowledge and experience that I gained from Joan’s leadership. She was very intelligent, ambitious, and so much fun. I remember that she drove a Gremlin! And we had a great time together at a conference in Vancouver. She loved working with children and loved the staff at SPARC, also. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. She has touched so many lives, and her obituary reminds me of her many accomplishments and abilities. I’m very fortunate to have known her.

  • Kathy Boudinot- Johnson

    I worked for Joan as a teacher at SPARC during the 70’s. I’m still a special education teacher in CA today, using some of the knowledge and experience that I learned from Joan. She was so intelligent and such an effective leader and manager. I’m very sorry to hear of her death. Reading her obituary made me proud and impressed once more. Joan contributed so much; I’m so glad to have known her.

  • Tom Williams

    I will always remember Joan as a person we should all strive to be more like. She was a beautiful soul who always put others needs above her own. A trait that Rob also has so it is no wonder that God put them together to better everyone around them.

  • Karen Parnell

    I feel fortunate to have know and worked with Joan through the years. Her efforts in early brainstorming and negotiating around establishing what has become know as the “Skagit Family Resource Center” (that co-located SPARC, HeadStart, Catholic Community Services, and Community Action) were key in making this appreciated and well-used facility become a reality! Hats off to a dear lady – this world is a better place for the foot steps she took through our lives.

  • Sharon Dillon

    Joan was such a wonderful person. So very up beat all of the time, everytime we got to see each other she would smile and have something good to say. I will always remember the dinner Jim and I shared with Joan and Rob and two other couples at their home. So very much fun. Joan, you will be missed by many.


    Rob, Bobby, Chris-
    I met Joan when she brought Bobby to Claire & Don Mapes’ daycare. Bobby would play with my son Travis. Joan was the kindest person. Always had a smile on her face. Such an inspiration to all. My thoughts & prayers are with you.
    Sincerely- Joanie Nagatani

  • Jennifer Lentz

    Though it has been years since I have seen Joan. . . There is no doubt she had a smile on her face and in her heart until her last breath. My son went to SPARC daycare in the late 1980’s. Those were some of the happiest days of our lives. Joan had a connection with all children. My heart goes out to her family and friends at this sad time.

  • Susan Bern

    I met Joan when Bobby started attending Edison Elementary. She was a parent who took an active part in her children’s lives and education. Her wonderful children are a tribute to both her and Rob as parents.
    Joan was an inspiration to many with her strength, compassion and sense of humor. I rarely saw Joan without a smile on her face. Rest in peace dear Joan.

  • Elena Harp

    I met Joan in the fall of 1973 after finishing the nursing course at SVC and deciding to volunteer at SPARC when it was still located in an old house at the base of Burlington Hill. Joan was a phenomenal director and spent time whenever she could with the children who attended SPARC. I eventually was hired by Joan and was able to learn so much from her. No obstacle was too high and Joan never said ‘not possible’. She will live on forever in her family and the life she and Rob made in Skagit County. Memories are what will hold you all together. And know that she will always be there watching over all of you.
    So sorry for your loss.
    Elena & Mark Harp

  • Deborah Moskowitz

    I met Joan shortly after I moved to Skagit County in the summer of 1978. As a special education teacher, I became involved with the county Developmental Disabilities Board and took great pleasure in getting to know both Joan and Rob and watching their agencies grow to provide comprehensive and much needed services in our county. Joan quickly became a friend, and I enjoyed many and varied conversations with her. She has been a bright light in my life and I will miss seeing her. Her beautiful spirit lives on in the hearts of all those whom she touched.

  • Al & Louise Fedoriak

    Joan leaves with us fond memories of every moment we shared with her. She was an inspiration to us and certainly to all who had the fortune of knowing Joan. It was an honor to have Joan speak at our District Conference n Fairbanks Alaska in 2004 and be in her company whenever we met from Palm Springs, to Alaska and many points in between. Although she will be sadly missed by many, we know that the great creator has Joan in a place of great comfort.

    Al & Louise Fedoriak
    Whitehorse Yukon, Canada

  • Rob Martin

    Joan was a true treasure. She was an inspiration to me, our family and to many others who knew her. Her character and dedication to the betterment of children is a legacy that will long outlive her.