Joan Vanderwerp

Category: Obituaries
Created on Thursday, 23 August 2012 02:14
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Services for Joan Elizabeth Vanderwerp have been scheduled 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

Joan died Aug. 18 of cancer. She was 66.

She was born Feb. 10, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest of eight children of Harry Lucas and Winifred (Mooney) Vanderwerp. She received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, and a master’s in public accounting at Walsh College, in Detroit.

She lived in Sitka for about 21 years – off and on since August 1981 – and had worked as a bookkeeper-accountant for the City and Borough of Sitka, and as an adjunct professor at Sheldon Jackson College.

She married Robert Ellis June 7, 2002, at Sheldon Jackson College.

Family and friends were foremost in her life, and her other interests included philanthropy, travel and quilting. But much of her time was spent contributing to the community as a volunteer.

She was active with Brave Heart Volunteers; served on the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation Board; helped with the Paths Across Pacific conferences; was on the WhaleFest board; helped with Octoberfest; and was a member of the Sitka Historical Society, Sitka Conservation Society and Ocean Wave Quilters. She sang in the choir at St. Gregory’s Church, and was a hospitality minister.

“Joan was the consummate volunteer within her community,” her family said. “She was the very best friend she could be. She extended herself to all people in all situations. Her friends were her life.

“As a deeply spiritual person, God was a big presence in her life. Joan was the kindest, most generous, thoughtful person imaginable, and brought magic into the lives of her family and friends. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her.”

Joan was preceded in death by a brother, James Vanderwerp, and a brother-in-law, Anthony Wolocko.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Ellis of Sitka, and his children, son Carl and his wife Leslie Ellis, and daughter Jane Ellis-Peters, her husband John Peters and their daughter, Morgan, all of Portland, Ore.; her son Scott Gingrich, his wife Carla and their children, Patrick, Erin, Shawn, Alix and Gavin, all of Anchorage; son Matt Gingrich and his daughter Ariel, of Mashpee, Mass.; and daughter Jeanne MacPherson, her husband Chris MacPherson, and their children, Ryan and Colin, of West Hartford, Conn.

Also surviving are her siblings and their spouses, Maryann and George Macdonald, Sara Moran, Ann and Winston Ingalls, Tom and Fran Vanderwerp, Susan Wolocko, and Kathleen and Tom Clark; and sister-in-law Beth Vanderwerp.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the SAFV shelter of Sitka.