Jo Ann Walther: mother, wife, teacher, friend, and lifelong caretaker, passed away on December 1st, 2023 just three days after her 78th birthday and three months after an automobile accident that took her from us all too soon. Jo Ann was not the average 78 year-old. She trounced all of us at Jeopardy, walked over 20,000 steps on most days, cooked for the whole family, aced the daily crossword puzzle, knit sweaters and hats for everyone young and old, and fed her grandchildren breakfast before school every morning.
Born on November 28th, 1945 to Henry Eustace and Josephine Agresta in Milford, CT, Jo Ann grew up as an only child who turned to books to learn about the world. It came as no surprise to anyone who knew her that she majored in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Chatham College. Whenever she grew weary in college, she quickly regained focus by remembering that her mother worked two jobs in a factory to make enough money to pay the tuition. She also knew that her goal was to marry the boy she punched in the arm at church at age 5 and started dating at age 16. Frederick Walther and Jo Ann Eustace were married on August 5th, 1967 in Milford, CT. They honeymooned on Cape Cod and eventually made Bermuda their annual anniversary destination of choice.
Education, hard work, and family (in the broadest sense of the word) meant everything to Jo Ann. There was never a person, plant, or animal that she wouldn’t feed and house for as long as necessary. At 9 years old, she started making meals for her family and would often rely on her Italian roots and turn to cooking for comfort. Everyone who knew her benefitted from this stress response. Jo Ann’s daughters’ friends would come to the house just to eat and enjoy her company … and maybe get an essay proofread while they were there.
Jo Ann’s passion for English led her to teach at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School from 1967 until her retirement in 2002. From the numerous students who lived at 12 Sheffield over the years to the massive Christmas parties that she would host at the house for coworkers, Jo Ann brightened and changed the course of countless lives during and after her career. She went to sleep every night knowing that she made a difference.
Jo Ann Walther is survived by her husband, Frederick Walther, her two daughters Katherine “Katie” Walther and Margaret “Meg” Walendin and their partners Tony Pyro and Chris Walendin, her adopted son Inku Kang, longtime best friend Theodore “Ted” Ducas, and her three granddaughters Joanna Walendin (14), Elizabeth “Liza” Walendin (11), and Veronica Walther (9). Jo Ann was a second mother to her granddaughters and they will always remember her for her strength, her generosity, her intellect, and her commitment to her countless family and friends.
A remembrance and celebration of life will be held at the Graham Funeral Home, 3 Arlington Road, Woburn, MA on Saturday December 16th from 3:00-5:00 pm. Immediately following, friends and family are invited back to 12 Sheffield Road, Winchester, MA for a comfort meal and gathering. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Jo Ann’s memory to St. Joseph’s Indian School, P.O. Box 100, Chamberlian, SD 57325 (www.stjo.org); or the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839 (www.redcross.org)