May 22, 2016
35 Railroad Street Plymouth OH 44865 5/27/2016 16:00:00
Plymouth OH 44865 5/28/2016 11:00:00
NORWALK – Joanne Lawrence Root, 91, died May 22, 2016, at Norwalk Memorial Home, after a brief illness.
She was born June 13, 1924, in New London, Ohio, the daughter of the late William Richard and Violet Louise Fink Lawrence. An avid horsewoman in her teens, she was a 1942 graduate of New London High School and a 1946 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
She moved to Plymouth and began her teaching career at Plymouth High School. She met and married the love of her life, Thomas F. Root, in 1948. They lived in Plymouth until 2007, when they moved to Norwalk.
She taught English at Plymouth High School and, later, at Pioneer Joint Vocational School in Shelby, until her retirement in 1984. Raised in the First Methodist Church, New London – where her mother was the organist – Mrs. Root joined First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Plymouth, in 1948, and remained an active member until her death. She was a founding member of the Plymouth Area Historical Society and served on the board of trustees for many years. Up to several months ago, she served as a regular volunteer in the Plymouth Heritage Center Museum, and served as a representative of the Society to the Firelands Historical Society.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Mrs. Root was active in the Plymouth PTA, the Plymouth Library Board and Twentieth Century Club, an organization of women who met to discuss current events. She was a seven-decade member of the Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle in New London. She was a Cub Scout den mother, back when scouting was an endeavor of almost every boy of the right age. In the ’50s and ’60s, elementary schools had “room mothers,” and she served several stints. She endured her sons’ sporting events, and shivered in the wooden bleachers while her daughter led cheers. She shepherded children through church pageants, school plays, science-fair projects and spelling bees. Later, she cared for her college-age children’s dogs, all of whom (kids and dogs) spent the summer in Plymouth. When her three sons drove trucks during the summers for Celeryville farms, she uncomplainingly served as a 24-7 short-order cook and silently fretted for their safety on the road at night.
After her children were grown, she and her husband traveled to Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Little of the foregoing, however, captures her essence. An only child, she wanted nothing more than to have a big family to love, and she achieved her goal. She was a woman of that time, without the long bullet-point list of awards, titles and professional achievements open to those who followed. But she left an indelible mark. Since her retirement nearly 40 years ago, men and women who were her students have recounted how her teaching influenced their adult lives.
Neighborhood children, now with families of their own, recall how she treated all of them like her own. When a neighbor boy playing with fireworks burned himself, he ran to Mrs. Root rather than his own mother to have his wounds bandaged. When another boy committed a serious crime as an adult and was sent to prison for 30 years, she never forgot him. For three decades, she corresponded and encouraged him until he was finally paroled.
Her family had long kidded her that she was a “mother’s mother.” Indeed she was, practicing motherhood as the highest calling of all. She taught selflessness, understanding, patience and love. At the same time, she demanded propriety in speech and conduct, and directed her family with a firm but loving hand that earned her the affectionate nickname, “General Jo.”
A few years ago, when a Norwalk church group was providing meals to help a family whose mother was dying of cancer, Mrs. Root – although a member of her Plymouth church – cooked many of the meals needed to serve the family.
In later years, Mrs. Root used an iPad to follow her children and grandchildren on Facebook, and she enjoyed using the Pandora music service to listen to Glenn Miller. Nevertheless, she remained a prodigious letter writer, keeping in constant touch with nieces and nephews, her college roommate, her cousins, and her childhood best friend.
She is survived by her loving family, including her husband, Thomas F. Root; her daughter Susan Root Moore of Plymouth, and three sons and daughters-in-law, Thomas L. and Kathy G. Root of Norwalk, Steven C. Root and Karen Ebel of New London, New Hampshire, and William Todd and Cherise Root of Hopkinton, Massachusetts; and grandchildren Thomas P.J. Root (Rachel), Leslie J.L. Root (Evan), Katharine C. Moore Veletean (Jason), Andrew E. Root, Travis S.C. Root, Elizabeth J. Moore and Elizabeth L. “Molly” Root. She was anticipating the arrival of her first great-grandchild in August. Mrs. Root was predeceased by her stepsister Judith Hauser Beatty, and her son-in-law, Timothy Joseph Moore.
Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 27, 2016, at the Secor Funeral Home in Plymouth, Ohio. A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 28, 2016 at First Lutheran Church, Plymouth, with Rev. Blanche Tyree officiating, Rev. David R. Root assisting. Memorial contributions can be made to the First Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Plymouth Area Historical Society. Online condolences can be made at www.secorfuneralhomes.com
Dear Mr. Root, I am very sorry for your loss. I am happy that I was able to meet you and Joann a couple years ago at a meeting of the Firelands Historical Society. May our good LORD FILL you and your family with HIS peace. Joann was a wonderful Christian lady, a model for all of us.
Dear Mr. Root and Susan, I am very blessed to have worked with Joanne at Pioneer for 7 years. She was a true professional and who cared deeply about her students. She always saw the best in them and went the extra two miles to help where needed. One particular student from Lucas, Julie Sauder, received the full measure of her true expertise. Julie became a RN because Joanne prepared her to do college-level work. Hers was a life well-lived, which she made most meaningful by helping so many in her care. Miss Tim also. Take Care and Bless the Root and Moore families.
To the Family of Joanne Root: My deepest sympathy for the loss of a beautiful lady and your loved one. She was my high school English teacher, and I will never forget how she reinforced the appropriateness of a handwritten “Thank You” note. You are in my thoughts and prayers at this most difficult time. Nancy Willford Giesige (Eldora Willford’s daughter)
My deepest condolences to the family. My entire life has been profoundly affected by this dear, dear woman. I was blessed to be the recipient of her kindness and acceptance as a child and adult…she never forgot me and I will never forget her. I do genuinely share in the grief of her passing.
My love and prayers to all of you,
Susan, I was sorry to hear about your mom. Just know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Dear Tom and Family, we were saddened to learn of Joann’s passing. She will truly be missed by anyone who passed her way. A lady always and a joy to know. We know that she has met Him who will shelter her in His everlasting arms forever. Please know that we will keep you all in our prayers and think of you often.
Max and Linda Caywood, The Villages, Florida
Deepest condolences to you Mr. Root and your family, Mrs. Root inspired scores and her tutelage will long outlive us all.
In 1970, I suppose after hearing “I Am a Rock”, by Paul Simon, Mrs. Root delivered a lengthy lecture to the class on how no man is an island. I have never heard that song since that I did not immediately think of her.
Susie and Family – so sorry for the loss of Joanne. She was a favorite of mine while I worked at Pioneer during her time there. Lovely lady.
She will be missed.
Susan, Katie and family. Our deepest sympathy for your loss. Eternal rest for your mother and grandma. Peace and comfort for all the family.
Sending you all our love and prayers.