JoAnn Elizabeth Guenther was born Dec 2nd 1941 to Margaret and Walter V. Hicks. She spent most of her school age years in Great Falls, Mt and graduated from Great Falls High School in 1959. During her high school years, she was very involved in Jobs Daughters organization and worked her way up to becoming their Honored Queen. After H.S. she moved on to college to pursue a teaching degree from MSU. She graduated in 1963 with her bachelor’s degree in Education and moved back to Great Falls to teach First grade at Largent and Riverview Elementary schools. She married Joel Guenther in 1967 and had two children, JoDee and Jeremy. They moved to California shortly after that and she taught school in Santa Maria for 3 years, Cypress preschool for 3 years and then taught 6th grade the rest of her 30 plus years in Garden Grove, Ca. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and felt blessed that she could fulfill her passion for helping children learn and grow for so many years. JoAnn was a social butterfly and liked to keep active so in addition to teaching full time, she was very involved in Garden Grove Education Association (GGEA) serving on the Board of Directors for most of her career, the National Education Association (NEA) as a representative for 12 years, and served on the California Teachers Association (CTA). During her time in California, she never forgot about her Montana roots and her beloved sorority sisters from Alpha Gamma Delta at MSU. She visited Great Falls every summer and got together with them as much as she could. She attended all of the reunions over the years as well.
JoAnn retired from teaching in 2004 at the age of 63 but she never slowed down. She was very involved in Saddleback Valley Church, she was a member of 2-3 bridge groups, she loved to travel, spend time with her grandkids and she loved to share a meal with friends. She hosted a small bible study group in her home for over 20 years through her church and even went on a mission trip to Rwanda, Africa in 2007. She took care of her mother, Margaret who lived with her a few years until she passed in 2010. She also cared for countless other people who considered her like a second mom to them. She loved people and they loved her. She had a cheerful personality but you wouldn’t want to mess with her. She was a powerful woman who was quick witted and full of spunk. Everyone loved her and she loved them back. We will miss her everyday that she is gone from this world but we know she is up in Heaven having the best family reunion of her life and we will get to join in with her when the time is right.
JoAnn is survived by her ex-husband, Joel Guenther; her son, Jeremy Guenther (wife Jan Guenther, grand-son Jared); her daughter, Jodee Cortez (husband Charles Cortez, grand-sons Christopher, Zachary and Gavin); Great granddaughter Callie Woods; Sister-in-Law Cindy Hicks, Niece Christy Lano (husband Jeremy Lano, sons Wyatt and Charlie), Nephew Bert Hicks (wife Lynn Hicks); Cousins Barb Winder, Jason Winder, Megan Winder, Lauren Winder, Kari Shirley, Chris Shirley, Becca Shirley, Emily Shirley, Abigail Shirley, Adam Shirley and Noah Shirley; Richard Browning, Colleen Browning, Heidi Browning, Marta Olson, Pat Woods.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Margaret and Walter Hicks, her brother, Steve Hicks, her Aunt Elizabeth Browning and Uncle Jule Browning, Cousin Martin Winder, Cousins Joan and Bill Humiston, Cousin Nick Browning, Mother-in-law Gloria Guenther.
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