Joanne Evelyn Witte
April 22, 1939 – November 30, 2020
Joanne Evelyn Witte-- Born April 22, 1939, Died November 30, 2020
Joanne grew up in Marcellus, MI where, as a little girl she enjoyed going on farm calls with her father who was a veterinarian. She graduated from Marcellus High School in 1957 as valedictorian. She attended Michigan State University where she met her future husband, James R. Clock. They were married on December 20, 1958 when Joanne was a sophomore and Jim was a senior.
After graduation as a civil engineer, Jim went to work for the Michigan Department of Transportation. When Joanne’s first child Karen was a year and a half old, she returned to MSU to study elementary education graduating in 1962. After having two more children, Janice, and Bill, and working as a substitute teacher and cooperative nursery schoolteacher, Joanne finished her master’s degree in 1976 in Early Childhood Development while also getting certified in Pre-School Special Education.
She began her teaching career in the Lansing Public Schools in 1976 and taught 4-year old special education students for seven years.
In July 1979, her beloved husband Jim and father of her three children died after a long illness.
In July 1980, Joanne married Lawrence N. Witte, a civil engineer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She also began working on her Ph.D. in special education administration which she received in 1985.
During her career in Lansing, she had many noteworthy experiences with her students and very much enjoyed working with the preschoolers. Later, she became a supervisor of special education in charge of elementary and preschool programs. She had programs in all elementary schools and directly supervised a staff of 60 support personnel. She thoroughly enjoyed her 17 years interacting with students, staff, administrators, and parents. Many of her staff members said she was, “the best boss they ever had.”
Larry introduced Joanne to hunting which she took to with great enthusiasm. She loved being in her blind on their hunting property where if she was not seeing animals, she could be found reading her ever present book. In addition to hunting in Michigan and the United States, they made eight trips to Africa, plus trips to Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina. She shot dangerous game—leopard, lion, cape buffalo, hippo, alligator—plus many species of plains game. They led and exciting and adventurous life.
After retirement in October 2000, Joanne and Larry moved to their cottage on the Muskegon River near Stanwood, Michigan where they added on to the cottage to be able to comfortably host their children and grandchildren. They also built a huge trophy room that along with the house, contained their 179 trophies. They had many wonderful parties in the Trophy Room. Joanne loved hosting and cooking for large parties of family and friends.
Joanne was a member of three Safari Club International chapters—Grand Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, and Lansing. She was a board member in Mid-Michigan for 12 years and oversaw the Cumulative Record Book which showed the measurement of animals scored and entered in the chapter record book. She very much enjoyed her time on the SCI Board.
While living on the river, Joanne spent many hours tending to her flower gardens, volunteering at the local hospital, cooking, reading, and planning the five or more hunting trips they took each year.
Larry became ill with cancer in April 2016 and life changed dramatically. Her daughter Janice left her job in St. Louis, MO and moved in with Joanne to help take care of Larry. He continued to deteriorate and had to be moved to an assisted living facility.
In 2017, Joanne and Larry moved to the Lansing area to be closer to their five children. Larry lived in an assisted living facility in Haslett and Joanne had an apartment a mile away. She visited him daily. During this time, she started volunteering at Sparrow Hospital in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she massaged and rocked infants. She loved her time with the babies. Every one of them was precious to her.
In October 2018, Larry passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Shortly after his death, Joanne moved to Williamston to be closer to her two daughters and their families and her son and his family who live outside Ann Arbor. During this time, the Williamston United Methodist Church became very important to her, especially her membership in the Prayer Keeper’s group.
Joanne is survived by her children Karen (Gordon) Wenk, Janice Grundy, Bill (Barb) Clock; her step-children Laura (Mark) Carman and Loren (Melissa) Witte; grandchildren, Jim (Courtney) Grundy, Ian Wenk, Caitlyn Clock, Erin Wenk, Hayley Clock, J. R. Clock, Owen Witte and Morgen Witte; one great grandchild, Charlotte Grundy. She was predeceased by her granddaughter, Katherine Ann Grundy.
Joanne cared very deeply for her family. She spent a great amount of time with them and had much laughter and joy with them. They helped her immensely during times of trouble and she helped them when they needed her. As her grandson Jim said, “This is the fun family.”
Joanne requested to be cremated and her ashes will be buried in 2021 in Oakwood Cemetery in Lowell. A memorial service will be held at a later date at Williamston United Methodist Church.
Memorials may be made to the Williamston United Methodist Church for their building renovation fund or Safari Club of Michigan. Gifts may be sent to WUMC, 211 S. Putnam, Williamston, MI 48895 or Safari Club of Michigan, c/o Joseph Pedersen, 4133 Stone Valley Lane, Twin Lake, MI 49457. Please make checks payable to “Safari Club, Michigan.”
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Joanne Evelyn Witte
January 8, 2021
Joanne, thank you for being a gentle and caring presence in the RNICU. You helped many babies through difficult days. We'll miss you
December 20, 2020
We enjoyed Joanne's friendship, love, and kindness. She was the perfect hostess and enjoyed having friends visit.
We loved spending time with her and Larry at their home and in their trophy room.
Prayers for the family, as she will be missed by many, but she is home again with Larry.
Love Mike and Dawn Knipfer
Michael Ritchie D.C.
December 10, 2020
I became acquainted with Larry and Joanne through SCI Mid Michigan and her numerous articles in the Frontsite Magazine. I enjoyed reading the account of their hunts all over the world. She is an elegant, creative, adventuresome, accomplished and hard working person. What a great legacy to leave her children and an example for all of us. The world was a better place because of Joanne and Larry. May God comfort you all with sweet memories and give you the hope of reunion some day.
Sincerely Michael L. Ritchie D.C.
Member SCI Mid-MI.
December 8, 2020
I have fond memories in junior high of going to family reunions on the Rollins side many times held at Fallasburg Park in Lowell. It seems so many years ago now. There were always lots of cousins in attendance and I had a hard time keeping track of who went with who. Joanne was one of the cousins I always enjoyed seeing and spending time with. She was always so pleasant to be around. In your sadness may the fond memories of years gone by sustain you during this time of loss. Don & Sherry Page
December 7, 2020
I first met Larry and Joanne through the MidMichigan Safari Club chapter in Mount pleasant. Two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Joanne always had a smile no matter what was on her plate that day. Truly a remarkable woman who absolutely had a passion for hunting!
Larry & Cindy Higgins
December 5, 2020
We met Joanne through Mid-Michigan Safari Club and worked with her on several committees. We would always see her at various SCI functions and she was always smiling and happy to see you. She was such a sweet person and she will be missed by all that knew her.
December 4, 2020
My condolences to Joanne’s family. As I told Joanne and her daughter at Larry’s visitation Dr Witte was the best boss I ever had the privilege to work under. She was honest and fair and very direct. She was my Asst Principal at North Elementary. She then, at my request, transferred me to the Early On program (where she was still my boss). I stayed in Early On for another 30 years, a job I loved. I will always remember her fondly. She was an amazing woman!
December 4, 2020
I am so sorry for your loss. Joanne was such a strong, wonderful woman. She was so proud of all of you and frequently shared her love and admiration. Her family meant everything to her.
Joanne was also a wonderful friend and boss. We frequently went to lunch once I joined the Special Education Team as a Teacher Consultant. We shared many stories and laughs. I felt so honored when she asked me to orchestrate her retirement party at the University Club. It was funny how, although I was in charge, really Joanne was very involved and still in charge. That was one of her attributes I so loved about her.
I loved the feeling that you knew she would support you, that she was always there for you, and that she would teach you if you needed it. In a way, the way a family knows a mother is there for you. She made me feel like family in so many ways.
My love and prayers to all of you. Your mother was truly one of the best people I have known.