JoAnn Marsh

Obituary of JoAnn A. Marsh

Our mom, JoAnn Marsh, died on January 9, 2024, surrounded by her living children in the home that she adored.

She was born in Sarah Ann, West Virginia, in 1936—and started life with excitement: She was left on the doorstep of Frank and Zettie Alvis with a note from her biological mother asking the Alvises to care for her. After an article about her in the local paper and a search for the person who left her, the Alvises adopted her. She proudly displayed the original newspaper clippings in her home and shared the story whenever we asked. Although an only child, she spent her summers at her grandparents' farm, where she enjoyed time surrounded by dozens of relatives and lots of animals.

On the farm, she began her love of animals; she once shared that she initially wanted to be a veterinarian, but "women didn't do that when I was going to college."

Instead, she completed her nursing degree at Berea College in Kentucky, where she formed lifelong friendships with her classmates—enjoying reunions and religiously exchanging holiday cards. In fact, she enjoyed reading cards from several of those classmates in the weeks before her death.

At Berea, she also met her now ex-husband and became a military wife. For more than 20 years, she created a home for us in every new town, making the transition seem effortless in a way only a mom could.

And, in ways that only a mom could, she taught us to be strong, inclusive, and kind—life lessons that guided each of us as we grew into adulthood. She also passed on a love of animals, proved by the parade of pets that came through our home—from dogs to snakes and everything in between.

Our mom spent more than 40 years caring for people as an operating room nurse, including many years at Mount Nittany Medical Center (Centre Community Hospital) in State College, Pennsylvania. Again, she formed cherished friendships with fellow healthcare workers and enjoyed regular get-togethers with her breakfast club and lunch group.

She loved and was loved by so many. Her three children—Jonathan Lee and Dana Louise—and Mary Elizabeth, who died from breast cancer in 2009, adored her; she counted her many close friends as family; and she loved her cats, including her beloved cat, Max.

Our mom didn't want a memorial service, and we're respecting her wishes. Instead, we ask that you remember her in a way that recognizes your relationship with our mom or, if you can, donate to an animal charity such as Pets Come First or Centre County PAWS.

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