Joanna Atkinson slipped peacefully from this life into the next on Sunday, November 15, 2020 of COVID related symptoms. The final breaths of her extraordinary 83 years were spent smiling sweetly, soaking in the love of her family-both virtually and in person.
Dorothea Joanna Jenson was born on May 25, 1937, in Pocatello, Idaho, to James William Jenson and Dorothea Crowell Jenson. When Joanna (Jo) was seven, the family moved to their rightful home-Glendora, California. Jo never looked back, quickly falling in love with sunshine, palm trees, and the beach.
She spent her teenage years galivanting around LA with friends and siblings-Toni, Jim, Susi. She graduated from Citrus High School and Citrus College, in Glendora, and eventually Brigham Young University, where she met the love of her life-John Horace Atkinson.
Joanna went by many things, but she was never anything but Babe to her beloved John. They spent 45 glorious years before his passing in February of 2007. We can only imagine his excitement as he welcomed her into Heaven with open arms and a sarcastic remark such as, "Babe, what took you so long?".
John and Joanna met at BYU, where she asked him to dance. Their love affair culminated in marriage in the Los Angeles Temple, in August, 1961. The lovebirds eventually moved back to Glendora, where John built homes and Jo taught elementary school until their first son, John, was born-followed by Kim and Billy.
In 1975, the family of five moved back to Provo, where Robert, the baby, was born. John built their dream home in Quail Valley, creating an environment where friends and family felt at home. The door was open, the Coke was flowing, the cookies were plentiful, and the pool table was hopping.
In 1987, they started Insta-Chain, the family business that became a huge part of their lives. The family's fondest memories are of crisscrossing the country on countless road trips-from West Virginia tradeshows to North Carolina family reunions to umpteen trips back to LA for In-N-Out burgers, Disneyland, and naturally beach days.
The kids were everything for Joanna, as she chauffeured them and their gaggle of friends all over Northern Utah. She loved and spoiled all four in their own way. Every time the children left home, they were told to "remember who you are and what you represent".
The real-life Mary Poppins, Joanna had everything you ever needed in her purse. From Chapstick to nail clippers to of course, chewing gum. She was the world's biggest Los Angeles Dodgers fan. So much so that we now wonder if she was holding on just long enough to see them win the World Series again-less than three weeks before she passed away.
In her later years, Joanna enjoyed serving in the MTC and the Provo Temple. But her grandkids were her life. She was their biggest cheerleader, making it a point to be wherever their talents were on display-piano recitals, rock concerts, dance competitions, school performances, and naturally, ball games of every kind.
Joanna left an indelible mark on everyone she met. She was everyone's friend, everyone's second mom, and quite simply the greatest of all time. There's no doubt that Heaven just got a lot cooler.
Joanna was preceded in death by her sweetheart John, her mom and dad, her brother, Jim, and sister, Susi. She is survived by her sister Toni; her four children John, Kim, Billy, and Robert; their spouses, Ana, Alan, Sarah, and Melissa; along with her 12 grandchildren-Jessica (Jordan), Sandra, Elder Alex, Kassi, Mallorie, Jake, Court, Penny, Dexter, Danny, Elliot, and Charlie-with one more on the way; plus one great-grand child, Grayson.
The family would like to give extra special thanks to Dr. Mike Pearce, Dr. Ian Mecham, and the nursing staff of the Utah Valley Hospital COVID ICU for the unending love during tireless hours at Joanna's side. You have no idea how much we appreciate the love and dignity in which you cared for Joanna.
A private funeral will be held on Monday, November 30, at 11am. There will be a public viewing held Saturday, November 28, from 6-8pm at Nelson Family Mortuary in Provo. To watch the live stream of the funeral and to RSVP for the public viewing, visit nelsonmortuary.com and click on Joanna's obituary. Joanna will be buried at the Provo City Cemetery after a private graveside service.