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Joan Marie Santi Baakkonen

1931 - 2024


Joan Marie Santi Baakkonen, born in Merced, California, in 1931, was a cherished sister, devoted mother, and a beacon of inspiration to all who knew her. The youngest sibling to Lorraine and Betty, Joan's early life in Merced was marked by her passion for learning and creativity. A proud graduate of Merced High School in 1948, she carried her zeal for education to Stanford University, where she earned a degree in Art in 1952.

Joan's sense of duty and compassion led her to join the Red Cross, serving the U.S. Armed Forces during the Korean War, a testament to her enduring commitment to service. Her pursuit of knowledge continued with a Master's degree in Child Psychology from the University of Florida. Joan's dedication to education shone brightly as she taught elementary school in the San Francisco Bay area, touching the lives of countless children with her warmth and wisdom.

Her life took a romantic turn when she met her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Ron Baakkonen, with whom she travelled the world while raising their family. Together, they nurtured a family and instilled the values of kindness, curiosity, and creativity.

Joan is survived by her loving children, Kris Baakkonen and Ron Baakkonen, as well as her two grandchildren, Kiran & Katie Baakkonen, her pride and joy. She also leaves behind twins, Kathy Whelan and Todd Wilhoyte, who, though once separated by adoption, were lovingly welcomed back into her life, completing the circle of family she held so dear.

Joan's legacy is one of love, artistry, and the unyielding belief in the potential of every child. Her memory will be cherished and kept alive through the countless lives she touched.

We Entrusted Joan Baakkonen's Care To

Oak Park Hills Chapel

Oak Park Hills Chapel

Oak Park Hills Chapel has proudly served families throughout Contra Costa County, California, for over 60 years. Our business' history begins when Roger Magleby, who was a pioneer in air-sea scatterings and a pilot, established our business in what was once a military medical staging and processing building for Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg, California. Ever since, we've had a special relationship with our military families and we are proud to be certified as Veterans Funeral Specialists.

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