JoAnn “Joanie” Gerfen, longtime Santa Maria, California resident, left us peacefully on Monday, September 28. She was 88.
Joanie was born to Josephine (Haack) and Arthur F. Kriese and raised in Modesto. She was the fourth of four children. Joanie graduated from Modesto Junior College in 1951, then in 1953 received a degree from San Jose State with a major in sociology and minor in business. She worked for several years as a social worker, and loved being able to help make a difference in peoples' lives.
In 1952, while visiting her sister and brother-in-law, Janice and Dick Tobias, at Cal-Poly, she met her future husband, Herbert Erwin Gerfen. They married on October 17, 1959 in La Crescenta, California. They divorced in 1979.
In addition to her social work, Joanie, a people person, worked for many years as a Census Taker, and enjoyed her interactions with members of her community. She also took pride in her ability to capture each person's Census information accurately and completely.
Joanie's son Craig, the light of her life, was born in 1974 while she and Herb were living in Santa Maria. She took great pride in Craig's accomplishments, family, and thoughtfulness for others.
In 1988, Joanie met her longtime companion, Leslie “Les” Oliviera, and they spent the next 29 years living happily together until his death in 2017. They enjoyed traveling, going to the casino, and especially, spending time with their grandchildren Ozzy, Herbie and Phoebe Jo Gerfen, Sophie Brown, and Jason Oliviera.
In addition to Joanie's grandchildren, survivors include her son and daughter-in-law, Craig and Lindsay (Brown) Gerfen. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews and their many children and grandchildren. Joanie was preceded in death by her parents; her brother and sister-in-law Jack and Winnie Kriese of Modesto; her brother and sister-in-law Bob and Mae Kriese, also of Modesto; and her sister Janice Carpenter and brothers-in-law Dick Tobias and Ray Carpenter, all of Corvallis, Oregon.
Joanie's joke telling, sense of humor, and love for fun and her family will be dearly missed. She will also be remembered for her passion and love for animals of all kinds.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the World Wildlife Fund or another animal-related charity of your choice.#r choice.
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