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1931 Joann 2017

Joann Branstetter

March 14, 1931 — June 7, 2017

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Joann Billie Branstetter, 86

Beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend, Joann Billie Branstetter, 86, of Wallace, Idaho, passed away June 7, 2017 at the Good Samaritan Silver Wood Village of Silverton, Idaho.  She was born March 14, 1931 in Arapahoe, Nebraska; Joann was the daughter of Arnold and Adeline (Backlund) Berry.

Joann was everyone’s favorite.  Billie Jo was her given name, but when she was young she was teased for having a “boy’s name,” so she altered it.  In later years, she stated she wished she would have been stronger and not bent to the social pressure.  Joann was strong in all other ways.  She raised her younger siblings and told a story about how she tried to make biscuits, but she burned them and they came out of the oven like little hockey pucks.  Some of her best childhood memories were from spending time on her grandparents’ farm near Sandpoint.

Joann moved to the Silver Valley with her family as a child.  She attended and graduated from the Wallace High School in 1949.  Around the time Joann graduated, she met Ken, who had earned a reputation around town for being a tough guy with the nickname “Sarge.”  They connected immediately, but their time together was cut short, since her father had sent for her to come visit him in California.  When Joann didn’t have a way to return home, Ken sent her money for a ticket back to Wallace and she knew then that they would marry and “everything would be okay” for her life after that.

The newlywed couple moved around throughout western Montana and Joann gave birth to Debbie, Mike and Teri, before Ken got the job he really wanted at the Depot in Wallace.  When Joann took a job at the Shoshone County Courthouse as a County District Court Clerk, she began her long record of serving the Wallace community.  She was devoted to philanthropy and gave generously of her time and money to support the UCC church, the Shoshone County Crisis Center, Library Board and PEO.  She had also served the City of Wallace as a councilwoman for twenty-five years.

Joann was a beloved mother, friend, cousin, auntie and grandma.  She never missed a birthday, made the most delicious potato salad and kept a beautiful yard filled with tulips, roses, clematis, dahlias and strawberries.  Neighborhood kids took joy in hanging out and talking with Joann who was a surrogate grandma to many.  Her journals reveal the love, pride and comfort she took in her family and friends.  Joann was fiercely protective of her loved ones and she would do anything for them.

Joann is survived by three children Debbie and Greg York of Oregon City, Oregon, Mike and Nancy Branstetter of Osburn, Idaho and Teri Ford of Spokane Valley, Washington; four grandchildren Heather Branstetter of Wallace, Katie Bauer of Wallace, Sam Branstetter of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Erin LeDoux of Portland, Oregon; two great-grandchildren Violet and Josephine “Josie” Bauer.  She was preceded in death by her parents, her beloved husband Ken, two brothers Dick, Bob, one sister Joyce and one grandchild.

A Celebration of Joann’s Life will be held on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 11:00 A.M. at the United Church Of Christ Congregational of Wallace with Pastor Alice Ling officiating.  A reception and a gathering of family and friends will be held at the Wallace Elks following services.

It was difficult for Joann to let anyone wait on her, because she preferred to be the one taking care of others.  Her faith in God and belief in the power inherent in Christian love was an unwavering constant during her life.  Joann was resilient through her childhood and valued the stability she found with Ken.  His love sustained her and gave her strength.  Toward the end, she was looking forward to joining her “Kenny” again.

The family suggests that memorials may be made to the Shoshone County Crisis Center, 415- 7th Street, Suite 1, Wallace, Idaho 83873 or to the United Church Of Christ Congregational, 408 Cedar Street, Wallace, Idaho 83873.

One may sign Joann’s online guest book at

SHOSHONE FUNERAL SERVICES & CREMATORY KELLOGG, IDAHO is entrusted with funeral arrangements.

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


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