Joan Holden Witte, age 93, died on October 8, 2019 surrounded by her family. A resident of Rockport, MA, she spent most of her adult life in Geneva, NY. Joan was born in Springfield, MA on July 23, 1926 to Laura Brown Holden and W. Stuart Holden. She grew up in Turin, NY, and Morrisville, NY, and graduated from Vernon High School as valedictorian. Joan received her BA from Cornell University with a degree in English. She worked as a secretary for several businesses including Eastman Kodak in Rochester and Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva where she met her beloved husband, John S. Witte. Joan joined the Foreign Service in Washington, DC and moved to Brussels to be the secretary to the US Ambassador to Belgium. After her time abroad, she returned to Geneva and married John in 1959. Their welcoming home was the site of many happy events for family, friends and the community.
A dedicated volunteer, Joan gave her time to a number of organizations including the Geneva Library Board, Planned Parenthood, Mobile Meals, Family Counseling Service, PEO, the United Way, and the Presbyterian Church of Geneva, where she sang in the choir for many years. Joan loved to travel, do crossword puzzles, and share a drink and conversation before dinner. Throughout her life she supported and enjoyed the theater, symphony, opera, museums and the Boston Red Sox. She loved to swim in Seneca Lake and in the ocean in Rockport. A staunch liberal Democrat, she relished discussing topical issues with family and friends and kept engaged with the world in later years through the New York Times, Boston Globe, and CNN. But most importantly, she loved to read, starting and ending each day with her book.
Joan is survived by her three children, Faith H. Witte and her husband Christopher Campbell of Newton, MA, Beth S. Witte and her partner Ronald Adams of Watertown, MA, John S. Witte Jr. and his wife Nanette of Harrison, NY, her three grandchildren, John S. Witte III, Harrison H. Witte, and Claire B. Campbell, and her two nieces, Melinda Nielsen and Kristin Clark. Joan was predeceased by her husband John and sister Anne H. Nielsen.
Donations in her name may be made to the Presbyterian Church of Geneva, the John S. Witte Endowed Prize c/o Hobart College, or the Cape Ann Food Pantry.
A memorial service will be held in the spring in Geneva, NY.
To send flowers to Joan's family, please visit our floral section.