Floral 17

Joanne Rachel (Willis) Michel

June 7, 1937 ~ May 22, 2021 (age 83)


Joanne Rachel Michel, 83, of Waco (Hewitt), passed away on May 22, 2021 at Providence Hospice Acute Care in Waco surrounded by her loved ones after being diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago. There will be no public visitation or service, as she prearranged for a simple gathering of family members to support each other with love and understanding during this time of shared sadness and grief. Thoughts and prayers of support for Joanne's family are greatly appreciated.

Joanne was born in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada on June 7, 1937 to Harold and Annie (Green) Willis. The family later moved to Southern British Columbia with Joanne growing up in Penticton, B.C. in the Okanogan Valley. She enjoyed athletic activities including softball and ice skating. While working for Rexall Drug Store at 17 years old, Joanne met her future husband, Sam Michel of Belton, Texas who was serving in the U.S. Army. Sam was stationed just across the border in Washington State. Joanne and Sam were married in June 1955. After Sam was discharged from the U.S. Army, Sam and Joanne’s first home was in Belton, TX.

After Sam graduated from college in San Marcos in 1959, he began teaching and coaching football, leading Sam and Joanne to live and raise their family in the towns of Sinton, Smithville, Lampasas, Belton, Connally and West. During those years, Joanne was involved in education as a kindergarten teacher, elementary art teacher, and later, as a paraprofessional (aid) in reading recovery and other areas. In addition, she worked in the Connally ISD tax office.

Joanne grew up as a member of the Anglican Church of England. After moving to Texas, she became a member of the Presbyterian Church. Joanne had a servant’s heart teaching Sunday School and was a member of Presbyterian Women’s Circles participating in service projects. She was a longtime volunteer at the Belton food pantry and for Meals on Wheels. Joanne also enjoyed knitting baby blankets for friends and family and donated many of these blankets to families in need.

Joanne was truly a life-long learner who enjoyed travel, reading, cooking, knitting, and any time spent with her children and family members. She found true joy in being with her grandchildren, and later with her great grandchildren. Joanne had a great appreciation for the beauty found in nature, works of art, and in music. She had a gift for recognizing and celebrating the beauty found in the diversity and complexity of each of her fellow human beings, and always demonstrated love and compassion for all people in her words and actions. She leaves this legacy for all who were blessed to have known her. 

Joanne was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Annie Willis, her sister Kathleen Leeson, her brother Frank Willis and her husband Sam E. Michel II. She is survived by her children Rhonda Visser, Mona (Ted) Heroman and Sam (Tessa) E. Michel III, grandchildren Sam Michel IV, Rachel Standerfer, Jennifer Bogie (husband Aaron), Kelly Heroman, Leen Visser, Anne Visser, and eight great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister Margaret Geldriech and her children Glenda, Janet, Paul and David and her brother Frank’s children, Brian and Karen (all of Canada).

The family would like to extend a special thank you to her Baylor Scott and White hospice caregivers, her Providence Hospice Acute Care caregivers and her surgeon Dr. Preston Milburn, who was always available to support her whenever needed as she lived with her terminal illness.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to any local food pantry or Meals on Wheels would be a greatly appreciated way to honor Joanne’s life.

The guest book is offered at www.gracegardensfuneralhome.com where you may leave your condolences or special memories about Joanne.

To send flowers to Joanne's family, please visit our floral store.


May 28, 2021

Time: TBD to 1:00 PM
Grace Gardens Funeral Home
8220 Woodway Drive
Waco, TX 76712

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