Obituary: Joan Campbell-McKee, 1953-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Joan Campbell-McKee, 1953-2022

An artist, gardener and tremendous cook's creativity was present in every aspect of her being

Published June 24, 2022 at 6:02 a.m.
Updated June 24, 2022 at 1:14 p.m.


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Joan Campbell-McKee - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Joan Campbell-McKee
Joan Alice Campbell-McKee was first and foremost an artist. Her artistry was present in every aspect of her being, every facet of her identity — wild woman, wife, mother, grandmother, gardener, carpenter, even reluctant hockey wife. Joan was a creative thinker, and that care radiated with all she engaged.

Joan’s artistic practice took root in the experiences of the Haight-Ashbury school of design and education, whose full stories may, in truth, rest with her. She developed her weaving practice and shared her woven designs, clothing, tapestries and rugs with clients and colleagues across North America.

A lover of the natural world, Joan found joy inn her vegetable and perennial flower gardens and respite on the trails of the family farm with Wes and their dogs, Harley and Sammy. The most joy was always her companionship with our father, Wesley. Mom and Dad were a fierce team, life partners, full of love, quick wit and support for their three children, Maggie, Asa and Cara.

A tremendous cook, Joan nourished our family from the bounty of the organic gardens she and our father grew each year. Additionally, Joan’s talent for baking garnered her the respect of a tough crowd of judges:  Great-grandmother, grandmother and great-aunts often commented on Joanie’s wonderful baking and cooking — the highest form of praise one could receive from a Mizener or McKee. Joan’s love radiated through this art of food preparation. Each menu list took into account the tastes and favorites of all. Even this summer, we will feast on the foods she has prepared in advance, with each of us in her mind, in her heart.

Joan loved her grandchildren, Orion, Veda, Oskar and Byron. Her legacy will continue to reside in their appreciation for the beautiful qualities of a creative life well lived. Even in the end, Joan wanted to fulfill her plan to build a tree house for the grandchildren to enjoy this summer. Thanks to Grandpa, Asa and Cara, the grandchildren will have a tree palace to return to on the farm.

Cancer had been a part of Joan’s life since she was 39 — a truth that, although difficult, also highlighted the tenacity of her spirit. Joan possessed an unrivaled strength. We will forever live in awe of her resilience and fortitude. We will forever hold our love for you, Mom, Joanie. We are grateful for the strength you modeled and instilled in each of us.

Water-stained and sun-washed, this poem has always resided in our kitchen, the heart of our family homes. It describes a life of experience and strength, of a deep love so true its strength will never fade, an organic being ripe for growth, experience and emergence into the beyond. Mom, Joanie, you have accomplished this and so much more. You will always be with us, and we love you.

I want to live to be / An outrageous old woman / Who is never accused of being / An old lady. // I want to live to have ten thousand lovers / In one love / One 70-year-long-lasting-love / There are at least /Two of me // I want to get leaner and meaner / Sharp edged / Color of the ground / Till I discorporate / From sheer joy.
— Julia Kooken

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