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Joan Cook (Whinham) Lee
July 31, 1935 ~ December 21, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old
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Joan Cook Lee, born in Montpelier, Idaho on July 31st 1935, found eternal rest December 21, 2023. A fifty-year resident of McCall, ID, Joan had always loved the life of her grandparents: James Whinham and Rosella Grunig, George Cook and Alice Sparks, on Bear Lake, but at a young age, she moved to Ogden, UT with her parents, Alfred Nello (Chop) and Lucile. Joan graduated from Ogden High and married Clifford Lee in 1954; they had three children, Diana, Cheryl, and David. Cliff’s Forest Service work took the family to Devil’s Slide and Roy, UT, as well as to Bakersfield, CA, before they settled in McCall in 1969.
Joan loved the winter, from the first flight of the Canada geese southward through the season’s last glide on Nordic and Alpine skis. In summer, she availed herself of the nearby tennis courts, and she loved to walk her half-wolf grand-dog, Duke, by the high school at sunset. Joan was a woman of many talents. She played the piano, the organ, and was adept with watercolor, rosemauling, and decoy painting. A prolific quilter, Joan crafted everything from sewing kits to table quilts, from Christmas ornaments for the Festival of Trees to decorative wall hangings. Joan had a gift for making everything beautiful, one she honed especially with flowers: she could hybridize and train them, dry them, and arrange them, recalling each of their Latin names and accenting their beauty with hand-made bows.
Joan knew how to make every moment special. Charming, witty, quick to laugh—and to make anything fun—Joan was also deeply thoughtful, focused, and not one to eschew consequential topics, whether spiritual, historical, or regarding life’s twists and turns. Joan was an avid reader and dutiful genealogist, making her both a patient, thoughtful listener as well as beautiful storyteller. Whenever she could, Joan expanded her learning, taking classes at Weber State and BYU and earning an advanced EMT certificate in the early 1980s.
Believing that the greatest and most sincere joy comes from serving others, Joan endeavored to share her learning, from Hawaiian quilting techniques to gardening tips, from how to yodel to knowledge about the natural world. In the late 80s and early 90s, she served as interpreter at Ponderosa State Park, advocating for recycling while giving entertaining classes for children on migratory birds and local animals. Joan was also dedicated to preserving and showcasing Valley County history through her Americorps volunteer work, part of which helped lay the foundation for the current Central Idaho Historical Museum, which includes the Fire Warden’s House at the SITPA / CCC site in McCall.
Joan was beloved not only for what she did, but for how she did it. She is remembered for her thoughtful questions, her compassion, her insight, her wisdom, and the twinkle of charm in her eyes. Joan remained a dedicated friend and loving grandmother even after her move in 2019 to Salmon Creek Assisted Living in Boise. From her many have gained much strength, as Joan underwent tri-weekly dialysis treatments and more without complaint. Stoic to the end, Joan was a patient servant of her Lord, enduring His trials with optimism, gratitude, and an open-minded acceptance of His lessons. Preceded in death by her son, David, and by her former husband, Cliff, Joan is survived by her two daughters, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. A celebration of life with forthcoming details will be held for family and friends in summer of 2024.
Private burial will take place in the Finnish Church Cemetery, McCall, Idaho.
Online condolences may be left at www.mccallfunerals.com