Joan's Story

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Joan Ruth Nielsen, age 75, of Preston, Iowa passed away Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, December 29, 2016 at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Preston with a visitation being held from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. prior to the service. Burial will take place in the Preston Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at Law-Jones Funeral Home in Preston.

Joan was born May 29, 1941 in Manchester, Iowa, the daughter of Gerald and Ruth (Tessman) Engelhardt. Joan was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 13, and was a proud survivor for 62 years. She attended Preston High School, graduating with the Class of 1959. Joan married Frederick Nielsen on October 4, 1959. They celebrated 37 years of marriage until Frederick's passing in 1996.

Joan was a homemaker and farm wife for most of her life. At the age of 50, she continued her education at Clinton Community College where she earned her Nursing Degree. She worked at the Alverno, Wyndcrest Nursing Home, and The Arch Homes with the handicapped, where she was fondly known as Grandma Jo to all. Joan was also a freelance writer for the Preston Times and, at the age of 70, published a book titled Without Mama. She was currently in the process of publishing her second book titled I'll Give that a Shot, a tribute to her struggles and love of life. Joan was a dedicated member of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. She served in the Iowa Leadership Women of the ELCA and was very involved in the church prayer group. Joan enjoyed volunteering at the Preston Public Library, where she spent much of her time assisting with the children's programs and at story time. Joan enjoyed being active and could often be found reading, writing stories and poems, singing or humming, visiting friends and going to events in her community. Joan was a devoted and proud Grandmother; she cherished time spent with her family more than anything.

Joan will be dearly missed by one son, David (Janet) Nielsen of Annawan, Illinois; four daughters, Barbara (Mustapha) Ghaddar of Beirut, Lebanon/Laramie, Wyoming, Nancy (Jesse) Gonzales of San Antonio, Texas, Dana Hackett of Las Vegas, Nevada and Ruth Nielsen of Water Valley, Mississippi; 15 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; her mother, Ruth; her twin sister, Jean (Horst) Hehr of Clinton; three brothers, Gary (Lois) Engelhardt of Cambodia, Marcus (Jo Anne) Engelhardt of Des Moines, Iowa, and Paul (Dawn) Engelhardt of Oak Park, Illinois. Joan is preceded in death by her husband Frederick, her father, Gerald, and an infant son, Andrew.
Published on December 23, 2016
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