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Joanna "Joni" Anderson

May 22nd, 1946 - March 21st, 2024

Precious and Few....

(The following obituary has been partially written by Joni, herself.  Amanda, Joni's Daughter, has added in some extra information.  Joni's words are written in the first person, Amanda's additions are in third person.)


My life has been a unique and interesting journey. I filled the hearts of Alice Marie Watts and Willis Wendell Walker with so much joy when I arrived on May 22, 1946.  Joanna Mae Walker was born in Nampa, ID, but preferred to go by “Joni”.  Too many times being called Joanna while causing trouble made Joni her name of choice.  It got even more exciting when my sister, Iona Jeanne Walker Durnan, joined the Family.


When I was three, a terrifying anomaly occurred. We seemed to be caught up in a tsunami called Polio.  Joni’s Mom, Alice, contracted Polio, which caused both Joni and Iona to be separated, each sent to live with one set of Grandparents for over a year.  This ordeal almost devastated our family.  However, because of their faith in God and strong family ties, the Walker Family would emerge stronger than ever and rose victorious even though the polio left Mom unable to use her arms or legs. Just more adventures to overcome.


I spent the first 18 years of my life divided between Boise and Moscow, Idaho, where I graduated high school in 1964 from Moscow High School.  I attended Northwest Nazarene University in Ponte Loma, and then transferred to and graduated from Eastern Washington University with a major in Speech Pathology and a minor in Psychology in 1970.


College seemed to be the best place to find a partner for life, and Joni met Kevin while attending EWU.  After Kevin graduated in 1971, they both moved to California.  Joni lived in the San Joaquin Valley and worked in various schools in the area. After dating for a few years, Kevin Edward Anderson and I married April 20, 1974. They lived in Pleasanton, and two years later, we were blessed with the most beautiful, amazing, awesome baby girl, Amanda Nicole.  They decided on the nickname of “Amy” when their daughter was very young.  In 1978, Joni and Kevin moved to Tracy, California, settling into their first home together.


Joni spent her years as a Speech Therapist in Elementary Schools in the Tracy Joint Union School District during the 1970’s through 1990’s.  She worked with children in special education during this time as well. Joni and Kevin always had a dream of moving to the Pacific Northwest, specifically, Beaverton, OR.  Kevin transferred within the AT&T company to a position located in Portland, Oregon in 1992.  Joni, Kevin and Amanda moved in March of 1992, with Joni again working with the local school districts as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  She served the Forest Grove, Sherwood, Tigard-Tualatin, Beaverton and Portland districts. 


In 1997, after 23 years of marriage, Joni began divorce proceedings from Kevin.  Joni remained in the Beaverton, Oregon area after her divorce, continuing her work as an SLP in the local area schools. 


In 2000, Amanda married Jon Whisman, and Joni felt blessed to welcome him as her new Son-in-Law. Even more exciting was Joni’s love of becoming a Grandmother, first in 2011 to Grahame Walker Whisman, and then in 2014 to Leonadis “Leo” Edward Whisman.  With Joni’s immense love for Purple, the nickname “Purple Gramma” evolved, and to this day, even those who are not her Grandsons find themselves calling her by this loving name.


When she retired in 2011 after spending 40 years as an SLP, Joni began to embarque on a new journey.  Becoming extremely frustrated with the process that plagued families with special needs children, or those on IEP’s (Individualized Education Plans) or 504’s, Joni decided to become an advocate for families.  Creating her own business titled Circle of Friends Advocacy, she wanted to make a difference for children and their families.  Her goal was to empower parents to navigate the special education process, learn the skills and strategies needed in this arena, and obtain knowledge in preparing an IEP/504 plan so their child received FAPE, a free appropriate public education.   I was so passionate about making a difference for families that had kids with special needs that I could tell you so many stories, but I think I’ve run out of time. Want to hear them? You know where to find me.  Like I’ve told many family and friends, God must be done with me because I’m gone and won’t be back.


No, really, I am gone, and won’t be back except in your dreams!


Life has had many ups and downs. All have been stepping stones that have guided me along the way.  Yes, I’m really gone, but I hope I have brought you a little bit of joy, wiped a tear or two but most of all made you laugh! Here are a few things to remember about me: 

I’ve been a devoted daughter, an energetic teenager, an Eastern Washington University graduate, a loving wife, a comforting mother, a dedicated teacher, a true and loyal friend, and a spoiling grandmother. 


And if you don’t believe it, just ask me. Oh wait it’s too late. Sorry!  You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone… I’ll miss you too!!


God Bless you one and all.  


Love n Hugs Forever, and remember - 

LIFE is an adventure:

*Laugh love live

*Inspire illuminate imagine

*Forever fantastic fortune favors


We Entrusted Joanna Anderson's Care To

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Patricia Frantz

Joni- I will be forever grateful for your support, confidence, courage and strength. Navigating through the early stages of the IEP journey. Your fearlessness and love gives us hope that life can carry on with grace in the face of adversity. ❤️🙏

Published April 15th, 2024

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