January 14, 1929 – March 10, 2023
Our beloved Mother and friend, Joanne passed away peacefully on March 10th, after 94 vibrant years. She was surrounded by her loving children and the angelic care of the team in the Rockwood Atrium.
Joanne was born in Spokane to Gretchen and Carl O. Harlow. She grew up in Spokane Valley and attended West Valley high school and Holy Names Academy. She went on to Washington State University, and double majored in English and Journalism. Her first leadership roles were within the WSU Alpha Phi Sorority, as chief editor of the Chinook yearbook, and was featured as “The Story Lady” on the WSU national radio show. She was married to James Thomas Slavin and they enjoyed 59 years together.
Joanne dedicated her life to community service and excelled at leadership roles throughout her lifetime including serving as president for the United Way, Junior League, and the Saint Anne’s Children’s Home.
Joanne enjoyed family time and her arrival at any event elevated the conversation and assured no one else stood a chance at winning Trivial Pursuit. Her favorite activities included watching sports, and she was a dedicated fan of her husband and son’s handball pursuits for decades. She also enjoyed horseback riding, tennis, golf, boating, travel, and above all reading. She picked up golf at age 70 when she and Jim took a seasonal residence in Palm Desert but still found time to volunteer at the Living Desert Zoo, where she tended to 22 pygmy goats, all of whom she greeted by name. She loved her bridge and investment club friendships and always looked forward to the next gathering.
She was a lifelong learner and a shortcut in her 90s was posing curious questions and getting answers from Siri! As a career volunteer, she beautifully balanced her commitments in addition to being a devoted wife and loving mother. Her children reflected dearly on New Yorker comics in every school sack lunch, her ability to make each one feel like “the favorite” and that she was “in the know” about the latest current event, rising sports stars, and what every grandchild was involved with at the moment. It was not unusual for one of her 8 grandchildren to discover a special birthday text in addition to a heartfelt, acappella Happy Birthday song. Friend Father Bob Mcneese stated that Joanne was “a person of extraordinary character” and anyone who knew her would recognize her undeniable positivity. A beloved highlight of her time with the Rockwood retirement community was hosting the baptism of her first great-grandchild - Carson Story.
She wholeheartedly embraced her 94 years as the dynamic matriarch of her family. She savored traveling and a glass of chardonnay with friends and later in life shared a dear friendship with a college friend, Ed Gayda. Joanne was an elegant spirit, a delightful friend, and a caring mother with a great sense of humor to the end. Her presence made any event a special occasion, as her company combined that of an intellect, an active listener, and a dear, faithful friend. While we will miss her dearly, she lived with Faith and her departure from this life will most certainly be a great homecoming celebration.
Joanne is survived by her four children, Jim Jr, Connie (Robert), Lori (Bill), and Skip (Carrie); and 8 grandchildren, Ben (Jacklyn), Jack (McKenna), Joe, Peter, Samantha, Lauren, John, Sadie; and great-grandson Carson.
And as she sang following every Happy Birthday song… “Many happy returns on this day of your birth, may sunshine and gladness be given and may the dear Savior prepare you on earth for a beautiful birthday in heaven.”
In lieu of flowers, remembrances should be sent to the Rockwood Foundation, the Gonzaga Prep Scholarship Foundation, or to Hospice of Spokane. To share memories of Joanne and leave condolences for the family, please visit Joanne's Tribute Wall.