Joan Hovatter left this life Wednesday, December 24, 2014, after a short illness, and rejoined her husband of 46 years; her parents; sisters, Marjorie Huff and Shirley Perry; and the pets who had been part of her family all her life, especially Amy and Moses, her senior dogs, who were a great source of comfort to her after her husband’s passing in 2002.
Affectionally known to her family as “Dodie,” Barbara Joan Newell was born March 16, 1931, at Mannington, a daughter of the late John Harman “Jack” Newell and Ethel Gay Heckert Newell. Dodie’s oldest sister, 10 year-old Marjorie Ann, was overjoyed and thought her mother had had Dodie just for her –– a real live baby doll! Eight year-old Shirley Elizabeth wasn’t so sure about this little surprise.
Joan graduated from Washington Irving High School in Clarksburg, then attended West Virginia Wesleyan for a year, majoring in secretarial studies. She went to work at Hope Gas Company, where she met a handsome young office equipment salesman, Don Hovatter, of Parsons. They married in August 1955, and had two daughters, Donna Joan and Peggy Ann.
The Hovatter family moved to Pocahontas County in 1962, when Don took a job with the NRAO in Green Bank. They lived in that area for 27 years, then settled in Lewisburg after Don retired. Joan was active for more than 45 years in the Cass, Arbovale and Lewisburg United Methodist churches, teaching Sunday School and helping with Bible School, Christmas programs and dinners, and was a member of the women’s circles in those churches.
In addition, she enjoyed sewing, crafts and ceramics, and especially loved trying new recipes at home. Her daughters remember their dad remarking on the recipes on more than one occasion, “My, that was tasty! But I know I’ll never see it again.”
As the girls grew up, they were blessed with a mom who was always there to listen and not criticize, who encouraged and never discouraged, who sang wonderful “old” songs to them when they were sick, drove them to practices, piano lessons, meetings, home ballgames and made pizza or cookies when their friends came over. All were made to feel welcome at Joan’s home, and she loved making or doing special things for her family and friends.
Many people remember the warm smile that Joan always had for each person she met. When she was in her mid 70s, she was the unfortunate victim of a stroke that did not affect her outward body, but instead damaged the expressive/outgoing speech gland in her brain, resulting in aphasia.
Aphasia is an often isolating condition because the person affected cannot speak normally or at all. What they feel or think has to remain inside because it won’t come out. If you’ve ever felt trapped, this is how people with aphasia feel. Many people think that because a person cannot speak, or “isn’t the same” as they once were, that person must also not be able to understand. In Joan’s case this was not true. She was just as sharp and intelligent as she was before she was affected, and she didn’t give up. She kept her smile and sense of humor and hope, and was able to beat her daughters at Scrabble for several years after her stroke. Even after she was no longer able to live at home, she still had a smile for each person she met.
She is survived by daughter, Donna “DJ” Hinkle, and husband, Steve, and their children, Benjamin, Luke and Jesse Hinkle, all of Lewisburg, daughter, Peggy Hovatter, and her children, Nathan and Matthew, all of Rivesville; and grandson, William Harris, and wife, Brittney, and their 11 month-old daughter, Isabella, all of Buckeye.
Funeral service was January 3 in Parsons, under the direction of McGraw Funeral Home in Lewisburg.
Memorials may be made to Friends of Life Sanctuary, RR 2 Box 271, Lewisburg, WV 24901, friendsfor lifewv.petfinder.com, which Joan supported for 20 years.