Kathleen Joan Carlston Willis passed away peacefully on March 8, 2021 after an enjoyable morning dining and shopping with a friend. She was born on December 26, 1940 in Seattle, WA to Gustavus and Kathleen Carlston. She is survived by her children, Susan (Christopher), Christine (Jason), David (Shannon), Richard, Kathleen (Dave), Benjamin (Kyoungeun) and Carol, 14 grandchildren, and her brother Ken Carlston. She was preceded in death by her husband of almost 54 years, Cardon, and her parents.
Joan was raised in Seattle, Washington. As a child, she and her mother regularly spent summers in Alberta, Canada, visiting her grandparents and extended family. She had many fun stories to tell of her time in Canada with her grandparents and cousins building life-long and treasured family relationships. Her father owned a grocery store chain in the Seattle area, and, as a child, she enjoyed her afternoons at the stores helping him and chatting with the customers. She graduated from Queen Anne High School in 1959 where she was active in theater and dance. She loved dancing and was part of a dance group through the LDS church in the Seattle area.
Joan studied at BYU, graduating in 1963 with a degree in Childhood Education. She returned home to Seattle where she taught elementary school. While attending a University of Washington LDS Institute ward, she met her husband, Cardon Weston Willis. They shared an interest in the theater and opera, and, after only a few dates, were engaged! They were married on September 16, 1966, in the Logan Utah LDS temple and shortly thereafter moved to Pasadena, California. After starting their family, Joan and Cardon moved to Lancaster, California, where they lived for nearly 40 years - Cardon practicing dentistry and Joan being a “super-mom”, raising seven children. As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she served in many callings including Young Women, Primary, and Relief Society. One of her favorite callings was Young Women’s president when two of her daughters were in the program.
Independent of her role in her family, Joan had many creative outlets and hobbies: sewing, crafting, scrapbooking, and cooking. When her children were young, Joan sewed most of their clothing. Before taking a major trip, she would sew matching shirts for the boys and matching dresses for the girls. She always said this kept her from losing any kids! It always made a great conversational piece with other travelers.
In 2003 Joan and Cardon retired to Cardon’s hometown of Laketown, Utah. She loved genealogy: researching her family history and piecing together the lives of her ancestors. She was an active member of the Daughter of the Utah Pioneers. To complement her genealogy efforts, she started scrapbooking. A major accomplishment for her was to make an individual scrapbook for all seven of her children.
When any or all her 14 grandkids came to visit, she would always have fun projects for them to do such as knitting hats or making “sun-bathing” snowmen on the deck. Her crafting table would be ready with cute paper to make greeting cards or scrapbook pages. She shared her love of baking with the kids and started traditions of cake bake-offs and gingerbread house contests when the family was all together. She also taught them how to make ice-cream from scratch and her signature/favorite dessert – cream puffs.
Joan was an accomplished organist and pianist. She shared her love of music with her children, who in turn shared it with her grandchildren. Several of her grandkids play the piano as well as other musical instruments. Despite the repetition, she loved hearing them practice and would often close her eyes and play along with each note or sing the words of the songs to herself.
A defining character trait of Joan’s was her interest in other people and her ease as a conversationalist. She had no hesitation talking to strangers wherever she went. If you went out with Joan – to a shop, to a restaurant, or to the grocery store – she would always find someone for a brief chat. She always had a big smile and kind word to share with everyone! This made her a fun and gracious hostess who loved having visitors and parties (especially during her years in California).
Our mother, Joan, was a great example to her family. She leaves a powerful legacy of kindness, graciousness, thoughtfulness and strong family values. She will be missed dearly.
There will be a funeral held April 17, 2021 at 11:00 am in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Laketown Chapel.
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