Joan Jollett Brooks died Dec. 30, 2020, in Chula Vista. She was born March 2, 1925 in Hillside, New Jersey, the daughter of Raymond Jollett and Petronella Severynse.
Joan was a professor of nursing, midwife, public health nurse, author, editor, and publisher whose inquiring mind only rested when she took her siesta. She was a polyglot who spoke four languages using all of them to engage strangers and friends alike.
She was a graduate of Trinity College, Vermont, (BS Science ’45), Catholic University, Washington, DC, (BSN ’50) and University of Pennsylvania (MSN ’69). Her education course was capped with a paper on Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase, “the medium is the message.”
Joan joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1945, taking her vows as Sister Mary Gabriel in 1950. She worked in mission hospitals in Venezuela and Pakistan. In 1971 Joan left the Society but continued to teach at the University of Zulia in Maracaibo where she started “Perspectiva,” the first professional nursing journal in Venezuela.
In 1973 Joan returned to the United States to study anthropology and work in rural Alamosa, Colorado, supervising public health nurses. She moved to San Diego in 1983 to continue her public health career. An avid hiker, she joined the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers and volunteered as a docent at Torrey Pines.
Joan married David Zantine Brooks January 28, 1989 in Ocean Beach, California. He was a fellow polymath, artist, philosopher, lithographer, and Trager masseur. David died in July 2007.
After Joan retired from San Diego County in 1990, she and David relocated to Desert Hot Springs where she volunteered at the Desert Hot Springs historical society, led tours at the Morongo Desert Preserve, published “The Desert Magazine,” and wrote two books, “The Desert Padre,” and her autobiography. Joan also presented papers at the Death Valley Historical Society, wrote pamphlets on self-publishing and mentored others writing their autobiographies. After a long career in nursing, Joan commented that she found her true vocation as an editor.
In 2004 David and Joan moved to Imperial Beach where she joined Friends of the Library, I.B. Women’s Club, and the civic organization I.B. Beautiful, but the Tijuana Estuary was her special love. She wrote and published the “Flower Talk” pamphlet giving personalities to the plants she pointed out to visitors on her Estuary walks. Her final project was a pamphlet on the trees of Fredericka Manor where she lived at the time of her death.
Joan is survived by her brother Herbert Jollett of Southport, North Carolina, and her mother’s great-nieces and nephews Carol Corrigan, Robert and Stephen Giurlando, Susan LaPerla and Marion, Thomas and John Severynse. She was predeceased by her husband David and her sibling, Father Robert Jollett, MSC.
Donations in Joan’s memory can be made to the Medical Mission Sisters, 300 Pine Road, Philadelphia, CA 19111.
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