Cover photo for Joanne Price Vanderweele's Obituary
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1923 Joanne 2010

Joanne Price Vanderweele

June 1, 1923 — June 21, 2010

Joanne Price Van Der Weele, a resident of the Maria Center in Donaldson, died at the Catherine Kasper Life Center at 2:50 p.m. on Monday, June 21, 2010. Born in Fulton County, Indiana on June 1, 1923, she was the fourth of eight children of Ernest M. and Susie Keeler Miller. After graduating from Rochester High School in 1941 and marrying Roy Price, she worked in the war effort while her husband served in the Army Air Corps in World War II. In 1950 Joanne and Roy moved to Culver where they raised their two daughters. Joanne was active in the community including serving on the library board, as a PTA officer and volunteer, as a Brownie Scout leader, and as a Republican Party precinct vice-committeewoman. Many of her daughters’ friends still refer to her as their “second mother”.

After both daughters were in school, she began her long career in county government, first working as the Marshall County Deputy Recorder for Lloyd Beatty. In 1966, at the urging of Bill Gee and Dr. Otis Bowen, she ran for County Clerk and became the first woman ever elected as a Marshall County officeholder. She subsequently served in county government for 42 years, including as County Auditor and four terms on the Marshall County Council, where she served as President for a period of time. She was elected by county-wide vote in seven elections, more than any other court house official. She served for many years as secretary of the Indiana Association of County Councils and was honored as the Outstanding Councilperson of the Year for the State of Indiana in 1999.

As County Clerk, Joanne literally worked seven days a week for the first two years before taking her first day off, a long weekend excursion with her daughters to Bardstown, Kentucky and Mammoth Cave. Oftentimes would drive from the Court House back to Culver to fix dinner for her younger child, still in high school, only to return to the office after dinner for several more hours. When she first assumed office, the clerk’s office had only two full-time deputies but she was assisted part-time for Election Board work by Mary Stackhouse and Mary Burkett, who accomplished on typewriters all of the election work that is now done on computers. Along with fellow Election Board members George Davis and George Miles, she initiated the use of voting machines, which replaced paper ballots. While she served as county clerk, Marshall County established a second court and then a third, and the Clerk’s Office added one more deputy each time they added a court. In 1070, following her younger daughter’s high school graduation, she moved from Culver to Plymouth, where she remained until December, 2008, when she moved to the Maria Center. As County Auditor she helped pioneer the county’s switch from typewriters – for taxes and payrolls – to computers for the first time.

Roy Price died in 1967 and in 1973 she married Gene Van Der Weele, a widower from Argos. Gene died of cancer in 1990, but during their marriage they spent a summer in Alaska, a voyage among giant whales in Mexico, trips to France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and many shorter adventures to nearly all-50 states in their motor home. Additionally they loved to fish, hunt for mushrooms, cross-county ski, bird watch, work in their woodworking shop, and play cards. After Gene’s death, she began playing bridge with several groups. More than the challenge of game itself, she loved the companionship of the many friends she made through the game. She was an elder of the Plymouth Presbyterian Church and a 50-year-plus member, and past Worthy Matron, of Eastern Star. Unquestionably the biggest thrill of her life occurred in 2004 while visiting her granddaughter Margaret, then a Notre Dame undergraduate studying in Rome. Following a large Wednesday audience, she was blessed by The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, an occasion that was memorialized in photographs taken by an official Vatican photographer and which she cherished the rest of her life. Since retiring from the County Council and several boards of directors at the end of 2008 and moving to the Maria Center, she has enjoyed catching up on her reading. She played games every night after dinner with some of the numerous friends she has made at the Maria Center. As recently as June 9, 2010 she enjoyed playing bridge at the Senior Center in Plymouth and was cheerful and upbeat in a phone conversation just minutes before her death. She was thankful for her many blessing during her time with family and friends and welcomed His promise of everlasting life.

Joanne is survived by Judy Price Reynolds of Culver and her children Margaret and John, and by Janelle (William) Kauffman of Shortsville, N.Y. and their children Alex and Claire. She is also survived by step-daughter Kay (Larry) Davis, Culver, and their children Angela and Christopher and step-son Kenn (Cheryl) Van Der Weele, Leo, IN and their children Brad and Jeff. Also surviving are numerous great-grandchildren, her brother Ralph W. (Betty) Miller, Texarkana, Texas and a sister Mildred M. (Ned) Bemenderfer, South Bend.

Joanne was preceded in death by husbands Roy and Gene, two brothers Ernest F. Miller Jr. and Richard M. Miller, and three sisters Norma Donovan, Martha Thompson, and Carole Paulik.

Visitation with Joanne’s family will be in the Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home, 1100 N. Michigan St., Plymouth, on Friday, June 25, 2010, from 4 to 8 p.m., with an Eastern Star service at 7:30.

The funeral will be at 10 am on Saturday, June 26, 2010, with calling one hour prior to services in the Ancilla Domni Chapel, Donaldson. The Rev. Paul Nye will officiate.

Burial will be in the Culver Masonic Cemetery, Culver, Indiana.

Memorial gifts in Joanne’s name may be made to the Hemminger House at P.O. Box 4, Plymouth, IN 46563 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
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