Cherished mother and grandmother, Joan Olive Travis Beard, of Portland, Michigan passed away on May 10, 2023, at the age of 78 after a recent cancer diagnosis. It is with deep gratitude and endless sorrow that we say goodbye to her.
Joan was born on August 24, 1944 in Lansing, MI to John Littleton and Elna Sabina (nee Woodruff) Travis. Tennessee natives, her family spent several memorable years of her childhood living in Dresden, TN and her stories of that time were full of adventure, family and faith. The family moved back to Lansing during her early adolescence, and she graduated from Eastern High School in 1962. She met the love of her life, Gary Leland Beard, at age 17 and they married in 1965 after she returned from her post-graduation adventure working in Washington DC. The ensuing years were devoted to her family and her community. Our farm was a labor of love for her and she was famous for working all night long on projects. Joan’s passion was education and she spent many years as a member and leader of the school board tirelessly advocating for better education opportunities. At age 53 she undertook a new career as a financial planner and found her calling working with families to ensure their financial security.
Her life story is an extraordinary one that is difficult to capture in a few lines and no adjectives could adequately describe her. She stood tall with a spirit of determination and bravery rooted in a belief that she was a child of God. Her honesty, humility, kindness and endless capacity for love touched so many. She was always available to listen and did so without judgment – she was everyone’s secret keeper and biggest cheerleader. She found peace in the beauty of the world around her - waves crashing along a rocky shore, a gentle wind rustling leaves during a cool rain, the warmth of sunshine and the allure of the moon. And she was beautiful, with a smile that would warm your heart and green eyes that would see you, for you.
She will be missed every day by her three children, Gary Leland Beard II (Molly), Tracy Anne Brunette (Ken), and Julie Travis Moss (Joey); cherished grandchildren, Brendan, Ashley, Grayson, Leland, Cutler, Haley and Zoey; special nieces, Kristen, Kelly and Kathy; her big sister, Marilyn Ward; her best friend and cousin, Kathryn Woodruff Brasser; and, many other loving and loyal family and friends. She was predeceased in death by her husband, Gary, her parents, her brothers, Ron Travis and Bill Travis, her nephew, Matt Travis, and her foster child, Teresa, whom she loved dearly.
A graveside memorial service conducted by the Rev. Dr. Marilyn V. Danielson will take place at the Portland City Cemetery on Friday, May 26, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. All those who loved Joan are welcome to attend and there will be a visitation at the cemetery one hour before the service time. Arrangements are entrusted to the Lehman Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, those who would like to honor Joan’s dedication to children could consider donations to the Portland Backpacks for Bellies program (portlandcommunityfund.org) which provides weekend meals to community children or to Operation Good Cheer (childandfamily.org/ogc) which provides Christmas gifts to foster children across the state.
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