Joan Theresa Newhouse Keating Sikon would be the first to tell you that she had a wonderful life. She was blessed as the wife of two gentle loving men, as the mother of nine children, as a grandmother and great grandmother, as a lifelong Catholic, as a nurse and college graduate, as a friend, and as a world traveler.
Joan (90) died June 23, 2021, at her home in Phoenix, AZ. She was born April 15, 1931, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a middle child of Raymond Arthur and Helen Rose (McGough) Newhouse. At the hospital Joan’s mother was not sure what names to give her. The Sisters of Mercy suggested Joan and Theresa, “two good saints.”
Joan knew that she wanted to be a nurse from a young age. Her resolve was cemented when she visited her mother in the hospital after the birth of her sister Barbara. Joan was 8 years old. During her senior year of high school, she worked with the Sisters of Charity to enroll in the Pittsburgh Hospital School of Nursing. She started a summer school science course the Monday after high school graduation in 1949. She started nursing school in the fall of 1949 and graduated in May of 1952. She became a Licensed Registered Nurse in Pennsylvania in December of 1952.
She met her first husband, Raymond Joseph Keating, in Pittsburgh shortly before graduating from nursing school. They were married April 6, 1953, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Ray was in the service and Joan joined him in Germany in the fall of 1953. Her love for travel was kindled as she travelled to Germany on the SS America. Ray, who was the youngest of three boys, wrote Joan that he wanted to have a large family. Between 1954 and 1964 they had nine children. Thinking of her you may want to have a glass of wine. For many years she had a medicinal glass of wine in the evening. As the mother of nine she certainly earned it.
The family moved to Phoenix in 1959 to be close to Ray’s dad and for the weather. They had five children then. Joan worked part-time at Saint Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, AZ. She also went back to school in 1966. She had nine children at the time and took Arizona State University courses during the day while her children were in school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Arizona State University in 1970.
With her degree she went to work as a Maricopa County public health nurse in 1970. In 1980 she went to work at the Maricopa County jail and worked there until she retired in 1992.
Joan was widowed in 1978. She continued to work full-time as a public health nurse for Maricopa County. Joan also resolved to fill her life with dance and travel. Her first big trip was to China in 1989. Joan traveled with family or with friends or alone. Once she started travelling, she always had a future trip planned – something to look forward to. Travel revealed to Joan that international problems are between governments. She always liked the people she met in the countries she visited including Russia and China. She rode a camel in Australia and an elephant in Thailand. She always took the time to send post cards to her children and grandchildren, creating excitement about receiving mail and an introduction to the world. Joan would have urged you to travel and to especially visit Prague and Venice.
Joan also loved ballroom dancing. There were weekly dances at senior centers around the Valley and she went often after she retired. She met her second husband, Chester Sikon, dancing. They were married October 26, 2007. She was 76 and Chester was 86. They continued to dance and travel as long as they were physically able. They lovingly grew old(er) together.
Joan’s Catholic faith was very important. She remembered her first Holy Communion and thinking, “I will be a Catholic all my life.” The family initially lived in Maryvale in the western part of Phoenix and was one of the founding families of St. Vincent de Paul church. Joan moved to downtown Phoenix and became a member of the congregation of St. Mary’s Basilica more than 30 years ago. She was a very active member of the church participating in the parish health ministry, serving as lector at countless masses, and bringing Holy Communion to the homebound.
Joan had a gift for making and keeping friends, including friends from high school, Pittsburgh nursing school, and ASU School of Nursing. She was a close friend of her neighbor from Maryvale for over 60 years. She also enjoyed being the matriarch of her immediate and extended family and attended family events and parties in Pennsylvania as often as possible. She was known by some as the “party aunt.” With such a large family and most of her children living in the Valley there were always lots of family parties. Joan and Chester were always happy to attend. The most recent family party was at the end of May celebrating Joan’s 90th birthday and Chester’s upcoming 100th birthday.
Family members who have preceded her in death include her first husband, Raymond Joseph Keating, son David Keating, son-in-law Duane Thurber, and great grandson Jedi Luke Minters. She is survived by her husband, Chester Sikon, her children Janet (Barry) McNaughton, Kathy Thurber, Helen (Rex) Romesburg, Carol (Jerry) Minters, Karen (Carl) Boyd, Raymond (Donna) Keating, Beth Malleo, and Michael Keating, 19 grandchildren, and 20 great grandchildren.
There will be a visitation held on Monday, June 28, 2021, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm followed by a Rosary at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at 10:00 am at St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. Third Street, Phoenix. A lunch reception will follow in the church hall. Joan will be buried on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, with a private ceremony held at Holy Cross Cemetery in Avondale, AZ.
Joan embraced charitable giving all of her life. She often remarked that she was very fortunate and wanted to share her good fortune. In lieu of flowers you may consider making a donation in her name to the St. Mary’s Food Bank, 3003 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85017, or St. Vincent de Paul Society, P.O. Box 13600, Phoenix, AZ, 85002.
Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com
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