Joan Ohlinger heeded the call of the bagpipes to find her way home on Friday, March 10, 2023. She was born on June 26, 1937 in Hamilton, Ohio to Clay and Alice (McQueen) Crawford. As an eighth grader, she was president of her local, Kiwanis sponsored Friendship Club. That year her mentor nominated her for the Kiwanis’ National Kids’ Day. With entries from over 3,000 clubs, Joan was selected and crowned the National Kids’ Day Queen. Part of her prize included an expense-free, week long trip to Hollywood where she met many stars of the day including Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Gabby Hayes, and Roy Rogers. Upon her return, the city of Hamilton held a parade in her honor and declared it “Joan Crawford Day” and she received a congratulatory letter from the governor of Ohio.
Joan was active at Fairfield High School as Vice President of the Future Homemakers of America club, homecoming court, yearbook staff, chorus, and Girls Athletic Association. She attended Ohio University and studied home economics before pursuing a career with McAlpin’s as a buyer. She worked retail throughout her life and was always, be it full time or part time, one of the top sales people. She absolutely loved what she did and always found joy with helping people feel good about themselves. She married the love of her life, Don Ohlinger, also of Hamilton, Ohio and moved to Chicago so he could launch his career. Joan stayed home to dedicate herself to the raising of their three children, Alice, Joe (Isabel Nunez), and Jenny (Joel Mauzer). As with everything she did, she was all in as mom. She sewed clothes for herself and her kids (especially Halloween costumes) and was well known at one point for her crazy ‘70s ties for Don to sell to his advertising buddies.
For each of her kids she served as a room mother, sports fan, band enthusiast, and theatre patron (and seamstress). Joan had a wonderful sense of humor that was immune even to Alzheimer’s and would laugh at most anything. Fun were the times she’d share a glass of wine with her sisters or her best friend of 65 years, Sylvia. She would say that her approach to life was to be positive, be kind, and that if someone was being jerk, then just walk away. She firmly believed that things always worked out for the best, and of course, mom was always right. Joan was a devoted wife, mother, grandma, friend, and aunt.
Joan is survived by her three children; three grandchildren, Maeve, Luke, and Liam; and her “best friend since the 6th grade” Sylvia. Preceding her in death is her beloved husband Don, brother Clay Crawford (Phyllis Sandlin), and sisters Phyllis (Sam Jones) and Shirley.
A memorial service will be held at Leonard Memorial Home, 565 Duane St., Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 on Saturday, March 18, 2023 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. with a short and joyful celebration of Joan’s life at 5:00 p.m. To honor her mother, Alice is a charity runner in the Chicago Marathon for ALZ STARS, Alzheimer’s Association, Illinois Chapter. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to support Alzheimer’s research at http://act.alz.org/goto/Ohlinger23
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