Joan Schweitzer Ostrander

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On Sunday, March 25, 2018, the world lost one of the few remaining members of The Greatest Generation. Joan Schweitzer Ostrander passed away quietly in her home, surrounded by her children and a friend. She was 97.

Joan was born in the small prairie town of DeSmet, S.D., just months after the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. She voted in every Presidential election from the time she became of voting age to the most recent election. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Mitchell, S.D., in 1939, and then from St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago in 1943, and taught nursing for a time. She served as a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, 55th regiment, World War II. She was stationed in England during the Blitz and in France helping to care for soldiers wounded in the Normandy invasion, which marked the beginning of the end of the war. After the war, she returned home and married Ivan Ostrander, an Army Air Corps flyer she’d met at a USO dance in Sioux Falls, S.D., before she enlisted. Together they raised five children in Sioux Falls where Joan worked as a nurse. After earning a Master’s Degree from The University of South Dakota, she taught senior English at Brandon Valley High School.

After retirement, she and Ivan moved to Osceola, and then to Nevada, where she lived happily with Ivan until he passed away in 2009. She delighted in the rich Missouri soil and spent some of her time doing organic gardening and planting trees. She created large, beautiful hand-knit and embroidered items for her home and collected antiques. She traveled extensively with her husband in the United States, including Hawaii, and in Europe. Then she took to her trusty Macintosh computer and, with Ivan, she finished and had published, at the age of 89, a book of memoirs titled “Bits and Pieces of Way Back When.” She was active in the Nevada Garden Club, the DAR and the AAUW. She attended the 50-year reunion of her regiment in the Army Nurse Corps. She also took the Honor Flight to Washington DC.

Joan is survived by her sister, Jacque Mason (Pat), Everett, Wash.; her five children, Jeanette Ostrander, Hilo, HI, John Ostrander (Nila), Sioux Falls, S.D., Richard Ostrander (Sherry), Sioux Falls, S.D., Carol Gunsalus (Dale), Maple Hill, N.C., and Matt Ostrander (Gloria), Grand Island, Neb.; her grandchildren, Lucas Ostrander, Phillip Ostrander (Becky), Michael Ostrander and Elizabeth Vanaman (Clay Lanham); and her great-grandchildren, Liam Ostrander and Hugo Lanham.

Memorial services will be held on Monday, April 16, at Ferry Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., she will be interred at Ft. Scott National Cemetery with full military honors. Joan’s epitaph will be the words one of her students said of her: “She made us think.”

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