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Joanne Hupp Umphrey, 92, of Beverly Hills, MI, passed away peacefully at her daughter Julia’s home in Bloomfield, MI on Dec. 30, 2022 surrounded by her family. The beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother (“GG”) will be greatly missed by her large family.

Joanne is survived by her second husband of 17 years, James Umphrey; her six children: Christine (Donald) Cowie, Bruce (Marlene) Hupp, Kathleen (Marinus) Quist, Jeanette (CJ) Francisco, Richard (Cindy) Hupp, and Julia (Charles) Gragg; her 24 grandchildren (a dozen girls and a dozen boys as she boasted with a grin); and her 38 great-grandchildren! Joanne will be deeply missed but will be remembered always by her siblings, John (Betty) Lawther, Nancy (Hal) Smith, Kay (Jim) Ishmael and by her many nieces, nephews, and friends from every stage of her long life.

She was born Margaret Joanne Lawther, on May 27, 1930 in Ann Arbor, MI to Dr. John Lawther and Mary Jean McCall. Her early years were spent in Charlotte, MI, graduating from Coloma High School in 1948. She attended Western Michigan University where she met Arthur Hupp. Married Sept 16, 1950, Joanne and Arthur started their marriage and their large family in Watervliet.

Their quest for adventure and success led them in 1963 to a job in New York City and a home in Westport, CT. Joanne loved the culture, entertainment and excitement of the city, and the opportunity for international travel that Art’s job presented. In Westport, she raised her six children, indulged her love of gardening, and discovered her spiritual home in the Unitarian church.

In Joanne’s early years of motherhood, with her family growing fast, she learned to sew, to garden, to preserve food, to remodel and restore an old house, to teach her children (and unknowingly their friends) to navigate life’s challenges. The medical emergencies of child rearing eventually led her to pursue a nursing degree.

Joanne and Art moved back to Michigan in 1977, to a home on Lake Huron, where they welcomed family and friends. Retirement took them to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas in 1994 - more water, more golf, and more friends. Sadly, after 52 years of marriage, Joanne was predeceased by Arthur in March 2002. Joanne continued her UU fellowship, including a leadership role as Board President, where she promoted the acquisition of a church building and helped grow the congregation.

In the midst of this independence, Joanne reunited with a high school friend, Jim Umphrey. A long distance email correspondence led to a full blown romance and marriage on May 28, 2005. These reconnected prom partners waltzed through their later years: international travel, museums, contemplation, and companionship. They nurtured their love of music and poetry, reading and writing, dancing and golfing, Scrabble and cribbage. Joanne and Jim returned “home” to Michigan in 2013 to be closer to family.

Joanne was a lifelong communicator, learner and mentor. From her first job as a telephone switchboard operator to her experience as a pioneer in data processing and then to her personal computer. Daily emails kept her family close and a mastery of Word helped her to create a treasured, published memoir in her 86th year.

Joanne was a woman with a huge heart. Wherever she went, she made new friends, always keeping the old friends close. Her love for her children, grandchildren (her favorite game playmates) and great-grandchildren was limitless - each of these nestlings has their own sacred and eternal memories, which will ensure that she lives on in their lives. They will carry on her humor, her smile, her joy in living life and her tradition of helping others as they remember the lessons she taught them.

A memorial service will be held at Birmingham Unitarian Church, in Bloomfield Hills, MI, on Jan. 28, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., with a short reception to follow.

Donations may be made in her honor to support those affected by Parkinson’s disease or Macular Degeneration or to Henry Ford Hospice. Please keep her generosity in your spirit and give to others each day.


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