Joan, 90, left us on Wednesday, November 25th and as her brother Tim put it, “was greeted by thousands of angels welcoming her into heaven”. She had a life filled with adventures, beginning in Buffalo, NY, where she was born to Thomas and Sibyl Plummer on February 24, 1930. She was the beloved wife of the late Robert MV Russell for 65 years. She was so proud of her biggest accomplishment, raising nine children with the love and encouragement they needed to each find a career they enjoyed, a partner they loved and who now have each other to love & share memories with: Mary-Sibyl (Raymond) Kress, Cleveland OH; Virginia Lentz, Greenwich, CT; Robert (Jill Blanchette) Russell, Westerly, RI; John (Colleen) Russell, Indianapolis, IN; Sheridan (Ramzi) Ghaby, Los Angeles, CA; Beth (Nancy) Russell, Seal Harbor, ME; Margy Judd, Cleveland, OH; Thomas (Sandra Silver) Freeport, ME; and Kate (Rob) Garn, Jeromesville, OH. She was grandmother of 12 (John, Brook & Kathleen Kress; Emily Lentz, Steven & Jacob Russell, Anthony, Cassandra & Samantha Ghaby, Amanda, Dan & Michael Garn) and great grandmother of 5. She leaves behind a sister, Mary (Gordon) Atkins, Bellevue, WA; two brothers, Tim (Margee) Plummer, Rose Valley, PA; and Holbrook (Karen) Plummer, Lisbon Falls, ME and many nieces & nephews.
After her children were grown, Joan returned to school and became trained as a hospital chaplain, a position she held at the former St Alexis Hospital. In retirement she jumped full time into her passion, sparked by participation in the Shaker Heights Citizen’s Police Academy, of taking “ride alongs” with any K-9 police officer willing to do so. Her favorite, Shaker Police Officer Mike Matsik, was the inspiration for her children’s book, Aero and Officer Mike: Police Partners, that was published by Boyds Mills Press and won the National Literacy Award for best Non Fiction Primary book of the year in 2002. Her second book, Trust Your Dog, was an adult non-fiction book featuring the stories of dozens of working dogs and their human partners.
She loved walking on beaches to collect shells & rocks, planning holiday menus and setting the table for dozens using her best china & crystal and she wore her heart on her sleeve, usually being the first at any family gathering to burst into tears, often for joyful reasons. Her faith was central to her life and she was a long-time parishioner of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Shaker Heights, followed by Our Lady of Peace near Shaker Square. Her macaroni & cheese was legendary, and there were plenty of leftovers as she always cooked as if her family of 11 was still in the house even long after her children had flown from the nest. Hug someone you love today in honor of Joan.