Joan Etta Baker Stratton passed away peacefully in Bedford, NH, on February 18, 2022, surrounded by family. They ask you not to mourn, but to hold Joan in your heart and celebrate a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, loyal friend, piano player, tennis champ and devoted Christian.
Joan is survived by her four children: Gary Stratton and wife Susan, Scott Stratton and wife Kerstin, Laurie Bruns and husband John and Diane Dunkle and fiancé David Lincoln. She also has twelve loving grandchildren and seven adorable great-grandchildren.
Joan was born to Paul Baker and Bernice Pence Baker in St. Louis, MO, in 1934. The family later relocated to Richland, WA, where her father worked in the first nuclear power plant in the United States. Joan met her lifelong husband, Warren Stratton in high school. They married shortly after graduation.
In 1954, the couple moved to Seattle so that Warren could attend the University of Washington School of Engineering. Joan, an accomplished typist, worked at various secretarial positions to keep the family afloat. After Warren landed his first job at Boeing, Joan and Warren began building their family, having four children in five years. Joan fondly remembered this time as magical. Warren took their only car to work, and Joan would take her four small children to the neighbor's house for coffee each day. They managed life on a shoestring but always felt rich. Neighbors remember her dedication as a mother, sense of humor and loving relationship with her husband.
In 1966, a transfer to Boeing's Vertol division in Philadelphia, PA, led the burgeoning family 3,000 miles to the suburb of Media. Joan continued her heavy involvement in her children's activities. She attended their numerous sporting events, led girl scout troops, helped at countless school events, including singing in a PTA performance of Sound of Music, and managed their frequent trips to the ER for stitches and various dislocated appendages.
Many summers included road trips in their Plymouth Fury station wagon to Ocean City, NJ, Gettysburg, PA, Williamsburg, VA and beyond. Twice they drove all the way to the West Coast to visit family. They also traveled two times to Brainerd, MN, to meet their Washington state family halfway across the country for a week of fishing, boating, swimming, and boisterous games of Knucklehead on Gull Lake.
With so many kids to educate, Joan held many income-producing positions. She taught piano lessons in her home, worked for a noted architect and even started her own Temp. Agency. Warren and Joan were extremely proud that all four of their children graduated from university.
In 1982, Joan and Warren relocated to Westlake Village, CA. Joan continued her involvement in the community and worked hard to become an accomplished 4.5 tennis player. Joan and her partner, Linda, held the top spot on the Westlake Tennis Club's (widely recognized as the best in the area) doubles ladder for years. When Joan and Linda played matches against other clubs, opponents sized up the two old ladies and decided they were in for an easy match. Boy, were they ever wrong! In 1990, Joan and Linda even upset a top collegiate team from USC. Joan's deadly lobs drove the young girls crazy.
In 1996, Joan and Warren moved to New Hampshire with Joan's mother Bernice to live near three children. The New Hampshire years were glorious, with family nearby, a lovely home in Bedford, another on Lake Winnipesaukee, a strong relationship with their church and a burgeoning number of new friends. Joan sang with the Sweet Adaline's and hosted lively summer reunions at the Lakehouse in Meredith. She played bridge, volunteered in the community and went out of her way to help those in need. Joan and Warren loved to travel. They spent six weeks in Palm Springs each winter, cruised with friends, traveled to Europe and explored the United States extensively.
After Warren's death in 2012, Joan battled Alzheimer's with grace and dignity. She was loved and adored by the staff of Bedford Falls Senior Living. Her constant smile, gung-ho involvement in every possible activity and regular "concerts" at the Bedford Falls piano brought joy to all. As she declined and her language and piano skills deteriorated, she still communicated with contagious joy through her songs, her smile, and her sense of humor. The family would like to sincerely thank the staff at Bedford Falls for their loving care of Joan in these last years of her life.
Joan will be dearly missed.
A Celebration of Joan's Life will be held at the in the Charolais Room at The Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, NH, on April 22, 2022. Please join Joan's family anytime between 1:30 and 3:30 PM. They will cherish the opportunity to share joyful remembrances of Joan with all the people who she touched in her life.
Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Manchester is assisting the family with arrangements.