Lois Joan Criswell

February 25, 1929May 5, 2018

Lois "Joan" Criswell, 89, of Peoria, Illinois passed away May 5, 2018 at Unity Point Proctor Hospital surrounded by her family.

Joan was born February 25, 1929 in Shelby County, Indiana to James Karl and Gertrude (Pherigo) Devening. Joan married her sweetheart Garland Eugene Criswell on March 18, 1951 in East Chicago, Indiana at First Baptist Church.

Joan was called to give her life to the Christian Service, earning her Bachelors of Arts and Religious Education from Baptist Missionary Training School (BMTS) in 1951 and her MBA from University of Illinois in 1983.

Her first employment was at Brooks House of Christian Service, Hammond, Indiana, and Gary Neighborhood House, Gary, Indiana, later YWCA, Peoria. She started her career in family planning as the first paid Executive Director of Peoria Planned Parenthood. She eventually served as Executive Director to two other agencies and successfully helped to merge the Planned Parenthood of McLean County and Planned Parenthood of Champaign County to become the Planned Parenthood of Central Illinois. She served as Administrator of Title 10 Family Planning of Illinois Dept of Public Health. She fulfilled her call to ministry through delivering quality healthcare through family planning. She retired in 1993, but she continued to volunteer her time in many tasks, including Church Women United,(Treasurer), American Baptist Women Ministries, Peoria Habitat for Humanity, the BMTS Alumnae Associations Executive Committee, Editor of BMTS "ECHOES", and as a volunteer driver for the Red Cross for many years. Joan was a lifetime American Baptist and a Member of Peoria First Baptist Church for 60 years, serving on various committees and as Moderator.

Joan cherished her time with her family, attending every birthday, recital, sporting event, and special occasions for each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She was loved truly and deeply by her family and friends in the same way that she loved them.

She is survived by her husband Garland; three beloved children, Kent (Nancy) Criswell, Cherilyn (Daniel) Wilson, and Susan Engstrom. Eight grandchildren Christina (Reece) Copeland, Jennifer (Joshua) Strickler, Janice Wilson, Stefanie (Ross) Garman, Kelly (Abigail) Criswell, Brandon Forsha, Barry Forsha, Jami (Patrick) Kreuzer and 21 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, one daughter, Janice E. Criswell, and her sister Dorothy Reed. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 12 Noon at Peoria First Baptist Church. Visitation will be one hour prior to the services. In lieu of flowers, Joan wished for contributions to be made to the Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service or to First Baptist Church of Peoria. Davison-Fulton Woodland Chapel in Peoria is in charge of arrangements. You may view Joan’s obituary online at


Lois Joan Criswell

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Terri Hoffman- Brooks

May 13, 2018

I will always remember her as the kind and thoughtful mom of my best buddy in high school, Susan. She seemed to have something in the works on her sewing machine. I'm so sorry Susan for the loss of your mom. I know it's hard.