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Joann Ethel Walvoord (1932-1958)

Joann Ethel Walvoord

Joann Ethel Walvoord

Joann Ethel Walvoord was born November 13, 1932 in Racine, Wisconsin. She was the third of seven children born to Randall and Elizabeth Walvoord.

Joann went to Fratt Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin. She then attended her 7th grade year at McKinley Jr. High School also in Racine.

In 1945, at the age of 12, Joann moved with her family to Amarillo, Texas.

She went to Sam Houston Jr. High School in Amarillo.

She then went to Amarillo High School. Joann had a beautiful singing voice and was in the Bel Canto Chorale choir at Amarillo High School.

Joann as a young girl in Racine, Wisconsin

Joann as a young girl in Racine, Wisconsin

Joann attended the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma which was started in 1933 and attracted contestants from the tri-state region (Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas). It was hosted by Phillips University and attracted hundreds of bands and choirs. As many as 250-500 schools all over southwest would compete. Hollywood producers of musicals that were popular during that time would send their talent scouts to Enid, Oklahoma to find new musical talent for the movies.

Joann graduated from Amarillo High School in 1951. Joann was very smart and ranked near the top tier of her 400+ fellow graduates.  She was outgoing and loved people.

Joann was described as having a wonderful smile. A Walvoord smile.  She was always upbeat and never complained or said anything negative.

Cretney's Drug Store 1949

Cretney’s Drug Store in Amarillo 1949

Joann as a "Soda Jerk" at Cretney's Drug Store c.1952

Joann as a “Soda Jerk” at Cretney’s Drug Store c.1950

Joann worked at Cretney’s Drug Store at 600 Polk Street in Amarillo as a soda jerk at the fountain. Two or three stores down from Cretney’s, a man named Bill Forbes was working as a shoe salesman at Kinney Shoes (between 6th and 7th Avenues on Polk Street in Amarillo). One day, Bill Forbes and a co-worker went to enjoy a soda at Cretney’s fountain.  Joann was working the fountain and Bill’s co-worker, who knew Joann from school, introduced them.

Joann and Bill went on their first date in the autumn of 1950 to the Amarillo High School vs. Lubbock High School Football game.  Amarillo and Lubbock had no other high schools at this time and this was a big game.  Joann asked Bill to go to the game with her on a double-date with a neighbor girl from across-the-street and her boyfriend.

Senior Prom: left to right Bill Forbes, Joann Walvoord, best friend Punky and her boyfriend.

Senior Prom: left to right Bill Forbes, Joann Walvoord, best friend Marleta “Punky” Perry and her date possibly Soapy Sudbury?

Bill Lee Forbes was born in Hobart, Oklahoma in Aug 29, 1931.

Bill’s family moved from Oklahoma when he was 13-years old to get his father, Grover, to a drier climate to help his asthma. He was a mail carrier and he traded his Oklahoma routes with a carrier in Claude, Texas for his routes.

Bill graduated from Claude High School,  in 1949 at the age of 17.

Joann Ethel Walvoord married Bill Lee Forbes in Amarillo, Texas on November 11, 1951. They were married at First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo.  While waiting in the pastor’s study before the ceremony, Bill sat on the corner of pastor’s glass-topped desk and broke it.  Bill was so embarrassed.

Johnny McCarty was the best man. Among the groomsman were, David Walvoord, and Gerald Hale.

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Mary (Walvoord) Hale, sister of the bride was matron of honor. Peggy Phillips was a bridesmaid.

Wedding Party Walvoord-Forbes

Wedding Party Walvoord-Forbes

After the wedding, the groomsmen grabbed Bill and took him to Polk Street. They put Joann in a wheelbarrow and Bill had to push her in the wheelbarrow from 3rd to 10th Avenue.

Their honeymoon night was in a tiny motel in Memphis, Texas.  The next day they traveled on to New Orleans and stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel.

After her marriage, Joann was a member of the Church of Christ and also a member of the Psi Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi.

Joann and Bill had one child, Michael Wayne Forbes, who was born February 14, 1953 in Amarillo, Texas.

Joann Walvoord Forbes in her wedding dress 1951

Joann Walvoord Forbes in her wedding dress 1951

Joann was a wonderful wife and mother.  She wanted additional children but was unable to and had talked about adoption.  Joann had a big heart.

Joann was careful with money and conservative with her finances. Joann and Bill loved to travel and were able to take lots of inexpensive trips with their many couple friends.

Joann and Bill would attend movies for cheap entertainment.  Joann loved movies and kept up with all the Hollywood actors and actresses and the back-stories behind the movies.

Joann was very spiritually mature for such a young age.

Mr. & Mrs. Bill Forbes cut the wedding cake

Mr. & Mrs. Bill Forbes cut the wedding cake

She worked at the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company as a Service Rep in the business office.  While there, she became friends with co-worker, Peggy Phillips. Joann would later introduce Peggy to her older brother David Walvoord.

Joann and Bill would double-date with David Walvoord and Peggy Phillips in David’s red Plymouth Convertible with a white top.  That was the first time Bill had ever ridden in a convertible. David and Peggy got married 5 months after Bill and Joann’s wedding.

Bill Forbes worked in financial services for Southwestern Investment Company which among other things, financed loans for cars and farm equipment.  This job required a lot of night work, including collecting of accounts.

Joann was very supportive of Bill and his career, in spite of the many and varied hours he had to work.

Joann’s job at the phone company provided Joann and Bill had a unique and economical entertainment option unavailable to the general public.

Television was new technology at this time, and Amarillo had no television stations.

Joann Walvoord walking in front of Montgomery Ward department store in the 700 block of South Polk Street in Amarillo.

WKY-TV, in Oklahoma City started up in 1949. The station was affiliated with the four major networks at the time (NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont). It was Oklahoma’s first television station. WKY-TV had a very strong TV signal and transmitted their signal through phone lines from the East Coast to the West Coast.  Joann and Bill were able to watch these TV programs in Amarillo at the phone company. It was free and it was a fun time for them.

While Joann and Bill were living in Roswell, New Mexico, Joann thought she was pregnant.  She went to a young doctor and was determined to be pregnant but was told the baby was dead. Joann and Bill went to a hospital to have the baby removed, but there was no baby… it was a tumor on her ovaries.  A biopsy discovered it was malignant and a complete hysterectomy was ordered. Her lymph glands had already been affected. The treatment for cancer at that time was a mustard treatment and was administered in Dallas.

David and Peggy went to visit Joann in the hospital in Roswell before a planned trip to Washington, D.C.  Joann told her sister-in-law, Peggy, “You know, they will find a cure for cancer someday, but it will be too late for me.”

On June 19, 1958, Joann died in Roswell, New Mexico, of ovarian cancer.

David and Peggy received the news of their sister and friend’s death while in Washington, D.C.  David had taken his family there for Naval Reserve training for a month. They couldn’t afford to bring the whole family back so David left Peggy and their two small children in D.C. and he flew home to Amarillo. Wanda and Roy Kiser (Peggy’s sister and brother-in-law) drove David to Roswell for the funeral.

Joann died at the age of 25.

A couple of years later, Bill re-married Donna Haddock (a native of Phillips, Texas). They married in 1960, in Borger, Texas. Donna had worked for Southwestern Investments in Borger, which was Bill’s territory. That’s how they met. Donna had two children Greg and Geoffrey from a previous marriage.

Donna adopted Bill’s son, Mike.

Bill adopted Donna’s sons, Greg and Geoff.

Joann Forbes and son Mike

Joann Forbes and son Mike

After losing his mother at the age of 5, Mike Forbes has always been involved with his Walvoord family.  He and his family attend the Walvoord Family Thanksgiving nearly every year.

Editor’s note:  This website would not exist, nor would you be reading this biography had Joann Walvoord Forbes not introduced my parents to one another.  I am so sad to have never met Joann, so sad to see a young life cut so short.  The Walvoord family is very close and I would’ve loved to see the interaction between her and her siblings—my aunts and uncles. Special thanks to Bill Forbes and my folks for sharing these stories of Joann with me. Also to Mike Forbes (Joann’s only child) for sharing photos of his mom.

Updated: November 24, 2015 — 8:22 PM

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