JoAnn Stevens Morton
August 29, 1931 - June 19, 2013
Loved By Many
Born in 1931 at Snoqualmie Falls, JoAnn grew up in Newhalem, Seattle City Light camp on the upper Skagit River. Her father, Joseph Stevenson, was head cook for the tourists who came by train to tour Diablo and Ross dams and lakes. JoAnn attended elementary school in Newhalem and for the 7th and 8th grades, JoAnn and her mother moved to Sedro-Woolley. Traveling by train and bus 35 miles from Newhalem, she was enrolled in Concrete High School until her parents moved to Florence, Arizona for part of the school year. During her junior year, her father purchased the College Inn across from the campus of Central Washington University (CWU). Skipping her senior year at Ellensburg High School, she enrolled at CWU, where she eventually earned both bachelor and master’s degrees in elementary and occupational education, requiring returning from teaching, to many summer quarters of academic work.
She married Gene Briscoe, a fellow student at CWU, who fathered their four children, Beth Ann Justice of Lynnwood, Gail Jo Shaw of Lynnwood, Glen Eric Briscoe of Carnation and Zoe Lynn Heath (deceased 2001). JoAnn was preceded in death by her daughter, Zoe and granddaughter, Shyla Rae. Gene and JoAnn taught in Aberdeen and then in Newhalem from 1954 to 1960 when they moved to Edmonds. Following a divorce, JoAnn traveled around South America by herself and worked as a tour guide at Iguacu Falls in Brazil. The following year, she acquired an associate degree in tourism and developed her own itinerary for credit, and back packed around Europe by herself to 14 countries. In 1984 she started a travel business called Creative Tours of Washington. She set up the Sister City program with Hekinan, Japan and participated in the first years of Taste of Edmonds. JoAnn retired from Edmonds (1984) with some 35 years of teaching having taught every grade from 2 through 12.
It was then that she met the love of her life, Bill Morton. Together, with his three children, they enjoyed 18 grandchildren, 27 greats, and one great-great grandchild (5 generations). They were married just short of 28 years. They were highly involved in Rotary International activities. They wrote education grants relating to literacy, teacher training and hearing conservation, and traveled to 5 international countries (Kenya, Thailand, Brazil, South Africa and Peru). They were invited to Thailand to teach English at a vocational college. Each assignment lasted for three months where most of the time, JoAnn and Bill were together “24-7,” enjoying every minute. The primary focus, helping to train teachers, in turn helped thousands of children to learn more effectively. JoAnn was a highly innovative and effective teacher with special insights into the needs of others.
JoAnn was an avid gardener, with WSU credentials as a master gardener and a member of the Edmonds Floretum garden club. JoAnn was a bright energetic, friendly, loyal individual who loved being involved with her family and community. She will be missed greatly by her family and many friends.
Memorial celebration service will be held at the Edmonds Masonic Lodge, hosted by the Eastern Star chapter, July 13, 11 a.m
Love at First Sight
The moment she walked across the street my heart skipped a beat. How could I not be interested in a pretty, blond, curly haired young woman? In our short conversation I found her to exude high enthusiasm and intelligence. I never forgot that attraction. Both of us were attending college to become teachers so our interests were mutual. She was impressed by my perceived intelligence and experience. She was engaged to the man who grew up across the street from my then wife of a year and a half. However, we didn't see each other, except for a short visit to see her second baby, until 31 years later. A graphic artist was designing new professional cards for both of us. We were retired and launching new careers and he thought I must know her as a teacher. She had changed her name so I did not recognize it, but was curious enough to call. She, of course, knew my name immediately and I suggest that we meet for lunch which stretched into an exciting 2 hours followed with a tour of her condo and her new business, Creative Tours of Washington. Thus, I was smitten again. Then I informed her that my wife had recently died, but not that it was only three weeks ago!
Both of us had re-enrolled in Context Training which greatly enhanced our communications and dealing with inner feelings and "Pursuing the Next Step with Excellence." We followed this together with seven other sessions at different layers and volunteering to assist and lead in three of the seven. This gave us a tremendous advantage in building our relationship. Randy, the author of the program, described "Love" as Joyful Acceptance" and that has guided us for 27 years. On our return from our first retreat on Orcas Island JoAnn asked about my intension and my quick reply was "To get married!" Her answer was "Oh, OK!" Interesting that this followed over 50 hours in the Wall program where no one could talk to each other. But I did break the rules of no fraternization with walking her to the women's quarters and kissing her good night. Wow! What a kiss that was!
Many times, when we traveled and served in Rotary educational projects in five foreign countries, we were not more than 20 feet apart for "24/7" keeping watchful eyes on each other. That's love!
A Life Shared
We've shared our lives these many years.
You've held my hand; you've held my heart.
So many blessings, so few tears -
Yet for a moment, we must part.
The memories you've given me
are times I've shared with my best friend
I'll hold them, Love.
Right here they'll be until we share our lives again.