In memory of
JoAnne Mitchell Elias
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In memory of
JoAnne Mitchell Elias
JoAnne Mitchell Elias February 24, 1926- October 5, 2016 JoAnne Mitchell Elias passed away peacefully at her home in Kensington, California at the age of 90. She is survived by her loving husband of 63 years, Joel Elias; her devoted children Nathan, Paul, Annie, and Edy; her ten adoring grandchildren—Jesse, Joel, Eli, Lydia, Maia, Mitch, Davey, Logan, Asher, and Emily; and her beloved nieces, brother-in law, sister in-law and sons and daughters-in-law. Born in Kentfield, California to Albert Mitchell and Alice Becraft Mitchell, JoAnne grew up in San Francisco, attending George Washington High School. She earned her B.A. in English from Wheaton College in Illinois where she graduated with highest honors and her M.A. in English from Mills College in Oakland, California. She was earning her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley when she took a pause in her scholarly pursuits to devotedly raise her four children. She later went back to school earning a second M.A. from San Francisco State University, launching a career as a teacher of English as a Second Language. She co-founded the English Center for International Women, housed on the Mills College campus, and served as its Executive Director, traveling to Japan frequently and other countries on recruitment trips. She was a great teacher, adored by her students. JoAnne was a classical singer and studied music under the composer Darius Milhaud when she was at Mills College. She recalled trembling as she sang one of the composer's own pieces for him. She continued to perform and study voice throughout her life. In 1952 she traveled to Japan, a transformational experience she never forgot and she remained a life-long devotee of Japanese culture and people. She was a great reader and, along with the beloved members of her book group of over forty years, read hundreds of books from a wide-range of authors. Besides reading, she spent her retirement traveling with her husband Joel, with trips to their second home in Jacksonville, Oregon where her ancestors had been homesteaders after crossing on the Oregon Trail. She was a true appreciator of culture and art and had subscriptions to the opera, symphony, ballet, numerous Bay Area theaters and museums, as well as to the Britt Festival and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We are all mourning the loss of our beautiful JoAnne with her lively intelligence and deep wisdom, her literary and poetic sensibility, her kind, compassionate soul, her wonderful humor, her vivacious, adventurous spirit, and her loving, green eyes.
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