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JoAnn Mae Richardson Neil
May 19, 1935 ~ October 14, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old
JoAnn Mae Richardson Neil, 88 years old of Ottawa passed away on Saturday, October 14 surrounded by her four loving daughters. Visitation will be Thursday, October 19 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Ottawa Funeral Home. A mass of Christian Burial will immediately follow at 11:00 a.m. at St. Columba Church in Ottawa with Fr. Nicolas Wilson officiating. Burial will follow at St. Columba Cemetery.
JoAnn was born on May 19, 1935. She grew up on a farm in Seneca and attended school in Newark and because she was such a smart cookie, she skipped a grade in school! She attended Newark High School and then earned her Registered Nursing degree at Copley Hospital in Aurora and worked in Chicago for her nurse's training. She loved working in the OB department at Delnor Hospital in St. Charles and later worked for several years at the Ottawa Medical Center. When her daughters were in school, she returned to school and studied substance abuse counseling, had a private practice, worked at Copley Hospital, and later worked at the Community Hospital of Ottawa. Helping other people through her work of nursing and counseling was her true calling and she loved every moment.
JoAnn married Robert E. Richardson and had four lovely daughters. Tragically, she was widowed at the age of 39 and raised her four little girls all on her own. In 1991, when her daughters were grown, she married Dr. James “Doc” Neil, who passed away in 2009.
JoAnn was a member of the Catholic Daughters of America for over forty years and assisted as a Eucharistic minister for several years at St. Columba Parish. She served on the St. Columba School Board and was a scorekeeper at her daughter's basketball games. She was a member of Earlville Country Club for many years and had the rare honor of not one, but TWO holes in one!
JoAnn loved being with her family more than anything and thanked God for them every day. Cheering on the sidelines at games, singing along at plays or concerts, attending music and dance recitals of all her grandchildren - those were her happiest moments in life. She delighted in playing games with her family - especially Scrabble, Farkle, and Words With Friends. JoAnn’s Norwegian Viking heritage taught her to never give up and that when you stumble, you get right back up with strength, determination, and grace. The Serenity Prayer guided her daily life along with the phrase - “take one day at a time.”
JoAnn was an avid reader and collector of books of all kinds. She encouraged others to read and generously shared her collection with dear family and friends. She was open to learning about technology and her grandchildren shared their expertise with her as she navigated her iPhone with finesse, keeping up on all the family text threads. JoAnn was fortunate to have traveled abroad several times and loved the adventure of learning through travel. In retirement, she escaped the midwest winters to her townhome in Scottsdale, AZ, and enjoyed having family and friends come to visit. There, she would stay busy golfing, painting, jewelry making, and soaking up the sunshine. Some of our family’s best vacation memories were when visiting Nana out in Scottsdale.
JoAnn appreciated all things beautiful and chic and her shopping skills were unparalleled! Her happy places were Chico’s or TJ Maxx hunting for treasures & bargains. Decorating and making things look beautiful were her specialty. She went out of her way to send beautiful greeting cards and sweet, hand-written notes to others. She was a passionate Chicago Bulls fan and would never miss watching a game on TV.
JoAnn’s family was her world. She is survived by her 4 daughters, Julie (Dr. Nick) Tabor of Ottawa, Mara Richardson Long of Lake Forest, Kristen Borth of Glenview, and Laura (Nathan) Utz of Granger, Indiana, as well as her beloved grandchildren, Nicholas IV, Erica and Natalie Tabor, Maggie, Bobby, Brennan, and Reagan Long, Paul Jr., John, Olivia, and Sophia Borth, and Carter, Paxton, and Rylie Utz, and numerous nieces and nephews. Their happiness and well-being were always at the forefront of her mind.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Leonard and Eunice Nelson, her first husband, Robert E. Richardson Jr., her second husband, Dr. James Neil, her son-in-law Paul R. Borth Sr., and her brother, Stanley Nelson, as well as her sisters-in-law, Marilyn Kuhn and Mary Jane Nelson, and her brother-in-law, Greg Kuhn.
Memorials may be directed to the St. Columba Building Fund.