A Life Lived: JoAnn Campbell devoted her life to her family, church, and music

Published 3:06 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2021

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The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But, it’s the doers who get things done. 
JoAnn Campbell had been a doer all her life. She got things done. She wore many titles in her lifetime — devoted daughter, wife and mother, bookkeeper, church pianist, gardener, friend, and Christian. And, she did all the duties associated with each well, and never complained.
JoAnn died April 19 at the age of 86. Her last chore was working in her flowers just a few days earlier.
“Mom enjoyed getting outside early in the morning and tending her flowers, pulling weeds, etc. She couldn’t stand a weed,” said her daughter, Cathy Curtis. “She enjoyed whatever she was doing. If it was pulling weeds, cooking Sunday dinner, or playing piano for church services, she did it as though she was doing it for the Lord. She never missed a beat.”
Cathy said her mother loved deeply. “She loved her kids, her grandkids. She would rush to meet their needs. She cooked Sunday dinner every week. She would get up early and do some of it before going to church, and finish it after church. Always, before we would eat she would apologize if something wasn’t right — if the biscuits got too brown or the meat was not tender enough,” said Cathy.
“My boys loved her meatloaf, and this past Sunday when we made dinner, Ryan (Cathy’s son and JoAnn’s grandson) made her recipe,” Cathy said.
“She and her brother, Ted, had just made tons of kraut. He took some of it home Sunday, and we have a lot left,” said Cathy, noting her mother canned green beans each summer and put corn in the freezer. “She was a wonderful cook.”
JoAnn was retired as a bookkeeper for the Carter County School System. “She worked there for 40 years or more. She wrote the checks, helped prepare the budget, and kept up with expenses,” Cathy said. Her mother received a Bachelor’s degree in business from ETSU. In addition to her work at the county school department, JoAnn served on the board of directors at Northeast Community Credit Union for 47 years.
“I can remember when she would come home from work, kick off her shoes, and begin supper. After supper, and the dishes and kitchen were cleaned, she would often iron or do laundry. Seems like she never sat down,” said Cathy.
In addition to her work and doing for her family, JoAnn enjoyed playing the piano and for more than 40 years or more was pianist at First Free Will Baptist Church. She never missed a service, was there for Sunday and Wednesday services, choir practice, revivals, and any service inbetween. “Often on a weekday she would go across the river to Tetrick Funeral Home to play for a funeral,” said Cathy.
“I remember when it was budget time, she often worked extra. Sometimes after church on Sunday, she would walk across the street from church to her office and lock herself in to work on the budget. That was the days before computers. Everything was done with paper and pencil. It was often said she ran the county with a pencil,” Cathy said with both a laugh and pride.
Her church work did not stop at playing the piano. She was Sunday School secretary and treasurer for many years, and maintained the flower boxes at the Academy Street parking lot. She also had a list of people she sent church bulletins to each week. “Some were former members who lived out-of-town, others were homebound or in the nursing home. It was something she enjoyed doing and her way of keeping in touch,” said Cathy.
JoAnn enjoyed sports, especially watching the Atlanta Braves and attending the games of her son and grandsons. When her son, Marc, played basketball at Clemson University, JoAnn and her husband Bo attended every home game. 
“I have so many special memories of her. When I was growing up, we would go shopping to Johnson City every Saturday morning with my grandmother and aunt. That was before the mall. We would go to King’s and Dossers,” said Cathy. “And one night a week, Mama, Daddy and we kids would go to Dino’s for supper. It was usually my piano lesson night and afterwards, we would go to Smithdeal’s shopping for groceries. That seems so long ago, but it made for good memories,” she continued.
To many, JoAnn Campbell was just another person. But, to those who knew her, she was special, extraordinare, a kind and caring person, who touched many by her thoughtfulness and love for the Lord. She will be long remembered at First Free Will Baptist Church. She may be replaced as pianist, but no one can fill JoAnn Campbell’s shoes.

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