At 2:23 pm on November 9, 2023, I held in my hand the precious hand that had accomplished 91 years of a life of service and unconditional love. Before she took her last gentle breath, I had the honor of giving her one more kiss, an expression of the love representing all who she had been able to touch during her journey on this wonderful world. This document is a short summary and tribute of a few of the important things her hands were able to do.
Joan was born in Fillmore, Utah on September 29, 1932, to Morris Hunter and Zina Mar Cummings Hunter. She was the fourth child of seven, Gwendolyn Hunter (Leo Goss), Reid Morris Hunter (Janice), Helen Maxine Hunter (Bernell Evans), Sherrill Kathleen Hunter (Steve Lunt), Gail D. Hunter (Regina), and Howard Laurel [Larry] Hunter (Janet).
She lived her life representing the faith and legacy of a Mormon Pioneer Heritage. Her great, great grandfather, Thomas Callister joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840. He and his family lived in Nauvoo, Illinois during the bitter persecution of the times, being forced from their home in 1846 having to endure the bitter winter of 1846-1847 in an adobe hut at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. In the spring of 1847, he and his family made the arduous trip across the plains arriving in Salt Lake City, September of that year. They were among the first to build that historic city. He came to Fillmore by assignment from Brigham Young in 1859 as the Presiding Bishop.
Growing up in Fillmore was not easy, but at the time it didn't seem that hard since everyone else had the same challenges. She lived in a small home that sat on 1 acre of ground which allowed for chickens, pigs, cows, fruit trees, and a large garden which provided much of the food for the family. There was no indoor plumbing until later in her childhood, so the addition of an indoor bathroom was a welcome alternative to the outhouse just behind the house.
Her first job was at Cafe’ llene on Main Street. At eight years old she worked as a dishwasher, then later as a server and then as a cashier.
Joan excelled in school, being named the valedictorian for her high school and later for Utah State Agricultural College (Now SUU in Cedar City, Utah) where she graduated in 1954 with a bachelor's degree in education.
She met her husband, Blair S Kenney while still in college. They married on December 6, 1951, in the St. George Temple. Together they raised 5 children, Kathryn Diane (David Anderson) David B (Carita Blomquist), Janet (Jared Christensen) Joyce (Lynn Evans) and Julie Kristen (Mark Munger).
While living in Cedar City, Joan taught at East Elementary School. ln 1956 the family lived for a short time in Enterprise, Utah where Joan taught school.
ln 1962 the Kenney family moved from Cedar City to California where Blair had accepted a special education teaching position in Corcoran, California. When they arrived, the home in Corcoran wasn't ready, so they rented a home in the nearby town of Hanford for a few months. While there Joan taught kindergarten at the same elementary school in Hanford that her children attended. ln fact Janet was one of her little kindergarteners. As a teacher she was able to ride the school bus each morning with her children. The job in Corcoran wasn't at all what the district recruiter had promised, so the very next year the Kenney’s moved once again, this time to Southern California. Blair accepted a teaching position with the Redlands School District. Initially the family lived in a home in Bloomington which belonged to the Zimmerman's, friends of the Hunter family.
ln 1963, Joan and Blair bought a 2-story home at 1301 E Central Ave, Redlands, California, that was built in 1886. Only two other families had previously owned this home. The lot was a third of an acre and had pomegranate, orange, lemon, tangerine, apricot, peach, kumquat, lime, almond and grapefruit trees. Her favorite plant was the gardenia bush. lnitially, the Redlands home was surrounded by orange groves, but over time the groves were replaced by apartments and homes. At the time of purchase, the home had only one bathroom upstairs and a toilet closet on the main floor. Over time, Blair built a family room with a 3/4 bathroom and a master bedroom with a full bath, both on the main floor. This house was Joan's home for the next 50 years.
While in Redlands, Joan taught English for one year at San Bernardino Valley College and then worked for the Redlands School District at various teaching positions for many years.
Without question, her most important accomplishment in life was being a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. As a mother, she saw to it that her children did their homework, learned to play the piano, went to church, and helped with the chores. She had a Saturday chore game where each chore was written down on a piece of paper and placed in a bag along with a "pass" that came with a treat. Each of us would pick from the bag. lf we picked the pass, we got to sit and relax with the treat while the others did their selected chore. This was repeated until all the chores were done.
Joan was a great cook. She was also very competent at bottling fruits, vegetables, and meats in their seasons. For the holidays, everyone looked forward to her homemade soft caramels and divinity.
She loved to go to Disneyland and held a season pass for many years. While her children and grandchildren were off going on rides, Joan was most often found sitting on Main Street conversing with or listening to the piano player. She also loved going to Laguan Beach and watching the waves crash on rocks and wash onto the shore.
Her all-time favorite hobby was going bargain shopping. Once she found zippers on sale for a penny each, so she bought 200. The ladies in the Ward used to buy zippers from her for a penny. She routinely took her daughters to the month-end clearance sales at the Harris Company in Redlands where they learned to stretch their buying power while having tons of fun.
Throughout her life she served with dedication in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints in every calling that came to her including primary teacher, counselor in the Relief Society, compassionate service leader, visiting teacher and nearly 50 years as ward organist. She understood and faithfully practiced the principle of ministering. For many decades she looked after those who had no one else-the lonely widows who lived across the street and next door, along with many who suffered tragedies, heartbreak, and abandonment. Joan was always there for them. She was a great example of love and empathy.
On September 11, 2008, her husband and lifelong eternal companion passed away. Taking care of that old 2-story home in Redlands was quite a challenge for her, so in 2012 she reluctantly sold the house and moved to Sandy, Utah to be close to her many Utah children and grandchildren. She bought a home a few blocks from her son, David, and over the next few years and at various times she had caring family members live with her to look after her, including grandchildren Brent, Nicole, and Chelsey. When the need arose in 2019, daughter Joyce and her daughter Alyssa moved from California to Sandy to provide 24-hour care and companionship. She will be eternally grateful for their sacrifice and loving care on her behalf.
For the last twenty-two months of her life, she lived at the Ashford Assisted Living & Memory Care facility in Draper where she received incredible loving and professional care. She also received excellent care from both Serenity and lnspiration Hospice Services.
As a legacy Joan leaves behind 5 children, 23 grandchildren, and a boatload of great grandchildren, (now 31 and counting). She is also survived by her two younger brothers, Gail and Larry.
Services will be held on Saturday, November 18 at the Union 5th Ward, 7784 So. Highland Dr. Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Friends and family are invited to come meet with the family from 9:30 to 10:30 am that morning with the funeral service beginning at 11:00 am. The interment will be at the Fillmore cemetery at 3:00 pm where son, David B Kenney will dedicate the grave.
Condolences for the family may be expressed on this page.
For those unable to attend in person, you may view the Funeral Services live beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 18th at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wW2DdY-uHEs