Joanne Blondin, retired science and math tutor at Lexington High, at age 81
Joanne Blondin of Cambridge died unexpectedly at home January 30, 2023. The daughter of Edward J. and Rose (Crapple) Blondin, she was born December 30, 1941, in Chicago, Illinois. She received her AB in science from the University of Chicago in 1964. She originally settled in California but on a two-week vacation trip to New York City, she decided to stay, pursuing her doctorate under Dr. Aaron Janoff. When he moved from New York University to the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Joanne followed, completing her doctorate in 1976. She then moved to Boston, working at Tufts University for the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging with Dr. Allen Taylor, and later at Boston University with Dr. Carl Franzblau.
Joanne cared deeply about the environment. She had a particular interest in carnivorous plants and visited bogs from Ponkapoag Pond in the Blue Hills to the Hawley Bog in the Berkshires and Peacham Bog in Vermont. Joanne participated in river cleanup events on the Shawsheen and Charles Rivers, bringing other women along to help. She considered the Charles River “her” river and joined the Charles River Watershed Association in collect trash along its shore and from the water. She also joined the Appalachian Mountain Club, working as a volunteer in trail improvement.
Joanne was a long-time member of Women Outdoors and participated in many of its outings and its annual Gathering. She would often read a selection of her writing at the talent show held one evening of the Gathering, and she enjoyed visiting the heron rookery at Sargent Camp. Joanne was an enthusiastic member of the Women Outdoors canoe relay team in the annual Run of the Charles 24-mile canoe race. She paddled a five-mile leg in the race every year between 2011 and 2018, and frequently recruited for new team members. She organized the Women’s Weekend at Stump Sprouts for nearly two decades.
Joanne was always an adventurous soul willing to tackle challenges. She climbed Mt. Shasta solo in 1982 with ice axe and crampons, scaling the 14,179-foot peak and returning after dark, thankful for the benevolent mountain spirit. The American Southwest had a special draw for her. She was deeply appreciative of Mooney Falls in Havasu Canyon, Arizona, having hiked and camped in the canyon in April 2007, within the Havasupai tribe’s reservation. She was deeply moved by rock art in the area. Many of her trips and adventures were written into stories and poems, several of which can be found in online publications.
Joanne went back to school for a degree in secondary education. After one year as a classroom teacher, she found her calling in the Lexington, Massachusetts, public high school, tutoring in science and mathematics until her retirement in 2006. She truly valued the connections she made with her students. Her friends believe that she was an effective tutor because she never lost her own mischievous and quirky inner teenager.
In her retirement Joanne turned full-time to her writing. She found her community in Rekindle Your Craft in Brookline, at Grub Street in Boston, and in an online writing group. Her children’s book “Matty, Detective Cat,” was inspired by her own two Matty Cats; it was illustrated by Marilyn Wheeler. “Professor Magillicutty's Dingle-Dangle Guide for Hunting Wild Animals” was illustrated by Anne M. C. Chavez. Her prolific writing for adults was just beginning to see publication at the time of her death. Her friends will mourn also for her characters whose stories now will be untold, for Princess Blue, for George, and the crew at Smoky Joe’s Diner.
She will be deeply missed by her sister Margaret R. Kazanis of Chicago, nephews Angelo, Peter, and Bill, and her many friends in the outdoors and writing communities.
Donations are suggested to the American Heart Association and to the Charles River Watershed Association.