Joan Melba Neff Knowland, age 87 of Madison, passed away on December 30th, 2020 at Hickory Creek of Madison. She was born February 6, 1933 in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the loving daughter of Carl Anton Neff and Melba Hankammer Neff.
Joan grew up in the Portland neighborhood of Louisville where her father, Carl A. Neff, was a pharmacist and owned Neff Pharmacy along with his brother, Earl Neff. She graduated from Shawnee High School in Louisville, Kentucky in 1950. This was the last all-girls class to graduate from there. She was in the high school choir and played the string bass in the orchestra. She then attended Eastern Kentucky State College (now Eastern Kentucky University) where she earned her elementary education degree in 1954. She later received her master’s degree in education from Indiana University. While attending Eastern Kentucky State College, she met her loving husband, Don Knowland. They were married on July 16, 1955 at West Louisville Evangelical and United Church of Christ and spent 62 wonderful years together until Don’s death on September 17, 2017. They had two daughters for whom Joan ensured were educated and gained as many experiences in life as possible. Don and Joan had a love of travel and spent their summers camping and visiting all the states in the continental United States with their children.
Joan was a teacher for 37 years. She started her teaching career in New Albany, Indiana. She then taught in Hopewell, Virginia while her husband was stationed in the Army as well as many schools in Indiana including the Dillsboro, Versailles, and Madison school systems. She retired after teaching many years at E.O. Muncie and moved with her husband to Sanibel Island, Florida and later Fort Myers, Florida to enjoy retirement. They enjoyed boating, entertaining, playing cards and spending time with friends. They travelled to a total of 67 countries in their retirement.
Joan was a member of Madison Presbyterian Church in Madison, Indiana and Sanibel Community Church in Sanibel, Florida. She had a beautiful voice and enjoyed singing in the choir. She also enjoyed playing the piano and continued to play piano at church until the last year of her life. She also was a member of Tri Kappa Sorority, Madison Teachers Association, Indiana State Teachers Association, and the National Education Association. She also belonged to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and was a proud Democrat.
While a teacher in the Madison Consolidated Schools, she helped bring these initiatives to the school system: Science Fair, Media Fair, and the Camp Livingston Environmental Program. She taught 4th and 6th grades at E.O. Muncie while teaching for the Madison Consolidated School system. She was known for her jingles that helped students memorize essential skills and still had students come to her in public many years later to recite the jingles they learned in her classroom. She accompanied many Christmas programs on the piano under the direction of JoAnn Williams.
Joan will be missed by her children: Lee Ann Cart and her companion, Bill Owens, of Madison and Ellen Aldrich (Joe), of Wilmer, TX; her loving grandchildren, Lesley Miller (Les) of Madison and Oran Cart (Jessica) of Winfield, IL; her adoring great-grandchildren: Claire, Kate, Cora, and John; her brother, Dr. Carl Neff (Elaine) of Seminole, FL; and her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Peggy and Bill Wall of Jeffersonville, IN. She was preceded in death by her husband, Don Knowland; her father, Carl Anton Neff; her mother, Melba Neff; her sister, Carol Wininger; and her daughter who was stillborn in November 1956.
At Joan’s request, there will be no visitation, and her family will celebrate her life privately. Her ashes will be placed with those of her husband, Donald Knowland, at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison, Indiana.
Memorial contributions may be made to Madison Presbyterian Church in Madison, Indiana or the Madison Consolidated Schools Educational Foundation. Contributions can be made at Lytle Welty Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, or below.