One Incredible Woman
Someday, I will write a book about my dear friend, JoAnn. Although not an Alaskan woman, she had the strength, compassion, and know-how of any Alaskan. She was -- in every sense -- One Incredible Woman. She left this mortal realm in January 2010 after passing through trials which no one I know would envy -- yet she was beloved and cherished by everyone who knew her.
In 1980 I was a young mother, new to northern Utah, with a five-year-old child and a marriage in disarray. This is when I met JoAnn, a woman who had adopted two boys and much later was able to bear three daughters. She began and continued to be one of my most cherished and dear friends, throughout all the ups and downs of both our lives. This friendship did not waiver when I faced my most difficult and challenging professional battle -- one of only a handful of people who did not doubt my integrity. This, alone, speaks volumes about her integrity.
JoAnn's youngest, Trisha, disappeared from her home in 2000 at the age of 15. Her remains were found a year later, which was one month after JoAnn's husband had passed from his long battle with cancer. Trisha's killer was convicted in 2004 and will spend the rest of his life in prison. Despite losing her daughter and her husband all within this one year, JoAnn kept her faith, her humility, her compassion. She never lost sight of those things of utmost import; rather, these tribulations only served to move her closer to her Heavenly Father. She constantly spoke of the love she had for God, for His children, for her Savior Jesus Christ. She never waivered, never showed doubt.
This is for JoAnn -- One Incredible Woman -- who has influenced my life beyond any expectation; who offered the hand of friendship in ways most of us can only imagine; who is now reunited with her beloved husband and dear daughter; and whose impact has marked the hearts of so many. We love you and miss you, my incredible friend.