Cover photo for Joanne L. White's Obituary
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1940 Joanne 2024

Joanne L. White

May 26, 1940 — February 5, 2024


It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Joanne Louise Dickenson White, a beloved mother, grandmother, artist, master gardener and constant advocate for social justice. She passed away peacefully, Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at the age of 83, from congestive heart failure, at home with her family in Boardman.

Joanne was born May 26, 1940, in Roseburg, Oregon, to Oliver Dickenson and Mary Katherine Cummins Dickenson Strauss. She graduated from Eagle Point High School in 1958. She went on to work for the city planning department in Medford, Oregon, before moving to San Francisco, California, in the early 1960s.

Joanne grew up with a passion for art, which she pursued throughout her life. Joanne attended Youngstown State University, where she honed her skills as a painter and in graphic design while majoring in art. During this time, she participated in numerous exhibitions and shows, including the Area Artists’ Exhibition at the Butler Museum of American Art.

Joanne was also a successful business owner, running a company called The Hemming Bird, which provided alteration and dressmaking services. She was highly skilled in sewing and design, and her clients praised her attention to detail and ability to bring their vision to life.

In addition to her business, Joanne also taught sewing classes to people of all ages and skill levels, from beginner to advanced. She was passionate about sharing her knowledge and empowering others to create beautiful garments. Inspired by her dedication and expertise, many of her students went on to become talented seamstresses and designers themselves.

Later in her life, she moved back to her home state of Oregon, where she attended and was employed at Southwestern Oregon Community College. During this time, she worked advocating opportunities for self-sufficiency through access to education, training and employment services for women in the Displaced and Single Parent Homemakers Program at the college. She later moved to Collegiate and Adult Education Services, where scores of students were inspired by her encouragement and unwavering belief in their abilities. She eventually retired from SWOCC as the division director secretary.

It was during this time that she became an accomplished woodcarver active in the South Coast Woodcarvers Association. Arguably her greatest medium, her work was well-known throughout the community, and she participated in numerous exhibitions and shows. Her beautiful carvings celebrated nature and family history, earning admiration.

In addition to her art, Joanne earned the title of master gardener through the OSU Extension Service in the Coos County Master Gardeners, where she volunteered many hours of her time answering questions, teaching, and working in the community garden and farmer’s market in Coos Bay, Oregon.

Joanne was perhaps the most progressive person you’d ever meet in her 80s. She was a compassionate and open-minded person who cared deeply about social justice. Always on the right side of history, she was a strong advocate for equal rights and spent much of her life fighting for the causes she believed in. Despite failing health and debilitating arthritis, she won an American Red Cross Acts of Courage Award in 2021 for single-handedly sewing more than 2,000 masks to protect the most vulnerable members of society during the pandemic.

Technologically savvy, even in her eighth decade, you could rarely find her without her iPad in her hand. She loved cards, word games, and chatting both online and in real life. In her later years, she became active in the rock-painting community, leaving encouraging messages for strangers to find. An avid crocheter, she relished providing everyone important to her a potholder or edged towel.

Joanne loved reading British mysteries and James Herriot novels, and watching Britbox programming. Most of all, Joanne loved animals and could never be found without a cat, dog or even a chicken that she wasn’t spoiling. She also had a passion for cooking, and in her final years, she and her daughter spent many hours watching nearly every cooking competition on the Food Network.

Joanne was preceded in death by her father, Oliver Dickenson; her mother, Katherine Strauss; her stepfather, Frank J. Strauss; her brother, Pat Dickenson; her son, Kevin Simmons; and her former husband, Dr. John R. White.

Joanne is survived by her beloved daughter, Kathryn White; her devoted son-in-law, David R. Mauerman; her adored grandson, David John Mauerman; her in-laws, David and Tina Mauerman; cherished cat Heidi; and a small flock of chickens that includes a spoiled rooster, who watched television and ate snacks with her on several occasions.

Joanne will be remembered for her artistic talent, love of life and unwavering dedication to making the world a better place. Her kindness, generosity and acerbic sense of humor will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to know and love her.

A closed memorial service for immediate family was held Feb. 6, 2024, at Higgins-Reardon Funeral Homes, Austintown, Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The International Rescue Committee, or Empathy for Animals in Niles.

Rest in peace, Mom. You will be forever missed and always remembered.

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