Joan was born in Oakland and lived in Berkeley until 1946 when she moved to Napa with her family. Joan attended Napa High School where she made lifelong friends and met English teacher/future travel companion, Ileta Grabenauer. Upon graduating high school, Joan worked for the attorney offices of Dan York, Frances “Bud” Frisch, and Ralph Trower.
In 1978, Joan moved to Campbell to work for the San Jose Office of Appeals for the state of California as a legal secretary. At the age of 50, Joan’s adventurous spirit led her to work for the US State Department foreign service as an office management specialist for the US embassy in Geneva Switzerland, Izmir Turkey, Pretoria South Africa, Taipei Taiwan, Singapore, and Ottawa Ontario. During her 15 years with the foreign service, Joan made countless friendships, which she maintained until the day she passed. Joan retired to Napa at the age of 65 to be closer to her family members, including her mother, Margaret LaPoint.
Joan loved everyone just as much as she enjoyed animals and opportunities to travel. She was most passionate about people, and Joan impacted the lives of individuals around the world. This passion led her to co-found Seedlings of Change, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, supporting, and empowering ordinary citizens, community groups and small organizations striving to promote positive, lasting change.
Joan is survived by her sister, Sharon Emmett (Harry), daughter, Kriss Buterbaugh (Mark), and two sons, Daniel Douma (Nilda) and David Douma (Kim). Joan is also survived by her grandchildren, Natasha, Jonathan, Melissa, Jessica, and Maggie; great grandchild, Steven; and two pets, Luna and Zoey.
A celebration of life will take place at 1:00pm on February 2, 2019 at the Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living, located on 1249 Coombs St, Napa, CA 94558. There will be a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to SeedlingsOfChange.org.