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1929 Joan Janssen 2023

Joan Janssen

August 20, 1929 — July 5, 2023

Joan Margaret (Esser) Janssen was born to eternal life on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, at the age of 93.  She is survived by her children William, Margaret (Ralph Brown), Peter (Audrey), and Virginia (Jeff Binkowski), and her grandchildren Dana, Ava, Peter, Olivia, and Sofia.  The second of seven children of Ambrose and Marion (McCann) Esser of Wauwatosa, she is also survived by her sister Virginia Bregel and her brother Ambrose (Gloria) Esser.

Joan attended St. Mary’s Academy in Prairie du Chien, and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Speech Pathology at Marquette University, where she fell in love with her late husband, William Charles Janssen, MD, whom she married in 1952, and who passed away in 1994.  They lived in Milwaukee, Oconomowoc, and Mequon.   A devout Roman Catholic, she attended St. James Catholic church in Mequon since 1965, and its successor Lumen Christi, where she volunteered until 2020.

She was a member of the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin,  served as president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Wisconsin State Medical Society, was very active in the restoration of the Villa Terrace in Milwaukee, and raised funds for the Boerner Botanical Gardens.  A founding and life member of the Herb Society of America’s Wisconsin Unit, Joan served as president while also editing and publishing the Society’s newsletter for many years.  For each issue, she composed an original poem, later collected in her 1999 book of garden poetry, “Under the Leaf.”  The Herb Society of America awarded her their Nancy Putnam Howard Award for Excellence in Horticulture.

Skilled in sailing and canoeing, Joan loved being on the water.  She gardened with a passion, played bridge and sheepshead, did crossword puzzles, and spent time with family and friends in northern Wisconsin.  She enjoyed beachcombing on Longboat Key near Sarasota in Florida, and traveled widely all over the world.  She studied French, and treasured her correspondence with fellow herbarists and gardeners around the world.  She was brave and kind and generous, an exceptional friend, and all who knew her will miss her.

The family would like to thank the Staff of New Perspective Senior Living in Howard, Wisconsin, where she spent her last months, for their dedication, care, and kindness to Joan, as well as Unity Hospice for their care and support.  A private memorial service will be held at Wisconsin Memorial Park in Milwaukee later in the summer.  In lieu of flowers, donations to Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens, 9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130, marked “for the Herb Garden in memory of Joan Janssen,” would be appreciated.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Janssen, please visit our flower store.


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