Joan Hill February 5, 1939 – October 30, 2021
Joan was a lifelong teacher and an inspiration to many. Some inspire by overcoming obstacles – she inspired by bravely living with and through life’s obstacles, choosing to be joyful and loving. She had to deal with deafness, blindness, being widowed young, cancer three times, and a stroke.
Raised in New York City, Joan graduated from the Bronx High School of Science when women in math were rare. After marrying Edward Hill and moving to Oregon in 1960, she stayed active in her community by giving piano lessons, teaching young mothers to swim, and training 4-H leaders.
Dedicated to rising above adversity, she did not accept the limits of the prognosis of her disabilities or illnesses, and instead focused on learning new skills and advocating for others. Joan championed scientific solutions to advance the treatment for her eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa, by participating in research projects after being diagnosed in her early thirties. After being widowed and raising her family, she completed a Master’s in Mathematics/Computer Education from OSU even as her vision was failing.
Joan spent countless hours on projects for ACB of Oregon as a board member, membership committee chair, and advocate for blind people. Her amazing capacity for memorization and accurate details was apparent in her work on bylaw changes and membership lists. She tested and helped debug the accessible voting system for Oregon. As a founding member of the Klamath Chapter of ACB of Oregon, Joan served many years as President and Treasurer.
When she had lost all her vision, she attended the Oregon Commission for the Blind career and orientation center. There she learned braille, how to access computers with speech, key skills of daily living, and how to trust herself walking with a white cane. Stepping out in faith was part of her everyday life – having the courage to face her fears and have faith in the angels among us. She learned to trust walking with her guide dogs and traveled extensively, sharing ACB conventions with grandchildren and friends where they gained compassion and learned how to spread awareness for equality and accommodations.
Passionate about teaching people to use computers, Joan started a computer lab and taught students of all ages in a private school in Klamath Falls, Oregon. At an age of expected retirement, Joan’s passion for empowering people did not stop. She transitioned her career into teaching people of various abilities computer and business skills, helping them have access to practical solutions for everyday needs. She worked with people one-on-one so they could gain employment and live full, independent lives, adapting her teaching to fit over forty different individual’s needs.
Joan loved her family, friends, church, swimming, growing roses, football, knitting, and dogs. An incredibly brave and strong woman, her character shone through in everything she did, including years of teaching others how to overcome their disabilities through adaptive computer usage. For Joan, every day was a blessing to enjoy and look forward to with hope.