Joan I. Needham

By on July 29, 2010

Joan I. Needham, 74, of DeKalb, formerly of Maple Park and Big Rock, passed away on Wednesday, July 28, 2010, at the DeKalb Area Retirement Center in DeKalb.

She was born on May 26, 1936, in Aurora, the daughter of Lloyd and Helen (Schuld) Fritsch.

Joan was raised on a farm outside of Big Rock and went through 12 years of school there. After graduating from Big Rock High School, she entered the Copley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Aurora, and made many lifelong friends there.

Joan was united in marriage on Sept. 23, 1956, at the Baptist Church in Big Rock, to Mr. Donald C. Needham. They made their first home in Maple Park.

Joan went to work as a registered nurse at the Sycamore Municipal Hospital and continued there until 1970. She held many positions, including charge nurse of pediatrics, evening house supervisor, and assistant night house supervisor.

Joan’s family began to grow; Pamela Jo was born in 1957 and Peggy Ann was born in 1960. In 1969, Joan accepted a position at the new Mid-Valley Area Vocational Center, where she was one of the eight “original” teachers who developed curriculum and taught junior and seniors from the participating schools.

Joan went back to school and earned her baccalaureate degree from the College of St. Francis in 1977. After completing her degree, Joan moved on to Delnor Hospital in St. Charles for three years, working as an in-service education instructor. In 1980, she was hired as director of education at DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Facility.

Joan graduated in 1981 from Northern Illinois University with a master’s degree in adult education. She also taught continuing education courses for nurses and nursing assistants at Kishwaukee Community College, Elgin Community College and Waubonsee Community College.

Joan’s career expanded when she began writing textbooks for Delmar Publishers in New York. She authored, co-authored and contributed chapters for a total of 13 books. In addition to writing, she served as a consultant for the development of media materials used in teaching nurses and nursing assistants.

Through the years, Joan was active at Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park, serving as a Sunday school teacher, and on various committees at First United Methodist Church in DeKalb, and as secretary for two years for the United Methodist Women. Joan was also a member of the Illinois Nurses Association and Delta Kappa Gamma sorority for women in education.

Joan was an original board member establishing the Maple Park Public Library in 1963 and continued to serve on the board for 20 years. She volunteered at both the DeKalb County Hospice and the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center.

In her spare time, Joan enjoyed several hobbies, including photography, needlework, sewing, genealogy, traveling and entertaining.

Joan is survived by her daughters, Pamela Needham-Volkert of Rochelle, Ill. and Peggy (Jeff) Yagen of Maple Park; her grandchildren, Samuel Volkert of Rochelle, Ill., Margaret Joan Yagen of Maple Park, Kim (Todd) Stecker of Creston, Ill., and Stephanie (Eric) Kersten of Ashton, Ill.; her great-grandchildren, Noah and Luke Steckert, and Madison and Elias Kersten; her brothers, Ken (Barbara) Fritsch of Wheaton, Ill., and Ron Fritsch of Chicago; her sister, Beverly (Gene) May of Sugar Grove; her good friends, Blen and Perry Lakin, Gwen and John Fox, Barbara Hoffman, Myrna and Bob Stouffer; and many nieces and nephews.

Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Donald Needham; and her parents, Lloyd and Helen Fritsch.

A funeral service will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 31, at the First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb, with Reverend Laura Crites officiating.

Friends may visit from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 30, at the Nash-Nelson Memorial Chapel, 141 N. Maple St., Hinckley. Interment will follow in the Ohio Grove Cemetery in DeKalb.

Memorials in Joan’s name made by made to either the DeKalb County Hospice, 2727 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, IL 60115, or to the First United Methodist Church, 321 Oak St., DeKalb, IL 60115.

Joan’s family would like to thank the DeKalb County Hospice for their wonderful care of Joan.
Arrangements by Nelson Funeral Homes & Crematory, (815) 286-3247. For information, visit