Obituary: Joan Packard Lewis

April 5, 1940 – Feb. 17, 2022

Joan Packard Lewis, 81, a longtime resident of Ephraim, and previously of Winnetka, Illinois, died at Unity Hospice in De Pere after a three-week battle with COVID-19. 

Joan was born in Evanston, Illinois; grew up in Racine Wisconsin; and spent her summers in beloved Door County. Joan attended Wheaton College as a freshman, then transferred to Northwestern University, pledging Tri Delta Sorority, where she made many lifelong friends. She taught sixth grade for several years before becoming a homemaker and raising children. When her kids were older, she returned to school, earning her master’s degree in social work. She practiced social work in the inner city of Chicago for a number of years before retiring and moving to Ephraim full time.

Her love of the outdoors was great. She was always up for a walk or a dip in the lake on a hot summer day, almost always had the top down on her car and never turned down a boat ride. She greatly enjoyed sports, including tennis, paddle tennis, skiing, running and most of all, sailing.

She spent summers of her youth with her siblings sailing Green Bay waters. Her passion for sailing became lifelong. She raced Enterprises on the North Shore and Flying Scots at the Ephraim Yacht Club (EYC) for many years. When she stopped racing just a few years ago, she continued to sail almost daily if the wind was right, often meeting friends on the EYC dock at noon to check the wind and hop on a club boat. She sailed with anyone and everyone — all ages — and loved to teach people how to sail or conquer their fears of heeling. Quite often, first thing in the morning, you could see her about town in her little red convertible, driving down to check the water and looking at the wind, of course. And she, throughout the summer months, scheduled her evenings around the glorious sunsets Ephraim had to offer. 

Joan also had a passion for music — mostly classical, opera and piano — but she also loved musicals and a little Amy Winehouse, too. She tuned in to the radio on Sundays to listen to the Metropolitan Opera. Growing up in her house, the record player was always spinning a classical tune.

History was another passion — especially presidential history and American history. She could talk for hours on these topics. She was an avid reader and a longtime member of a book club, and she always had a good recommendation. 

Another passion was travel. She enjoyed trips to many countries all over the world, just as much as she loved seeing the U.S. She relished all the amazing experiences that came along with those travels and the people she traveled with. She had wonderful stories to share about the people she met along the way, the places she saw, things that she tried and everything in between. She was a lover of education, studied the French language her whole life, loved playing bridge and she was never too old or afraid to try something new. 

Most important to Joani were the people in her life. She loved people, people of all ages, and she was loved tremendously in return. She loved big and hard and shared that love openly and freely. She showed up for those in times of need and really cared to hear what people of all ages had to say. She made them feel important. And she never met a party she didn’t like. Joan leaves a legacy of love and strength. 

Joani is survived by her loving partner, Chuck Mead; her children, Jennifer Neavolls, Christopher Neavolls (Jeannine) and Kate Lorenz; her sister, Barbara (Bob) Ziegler and brother Dick (Pam) Packard; seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, as well as loving cousins, nieces and nephew, their children, and the Mead family. She is predeceased by her parents, Josephine and Howard Packard; her brother Jim Packard; husband, Larry Lewis; and stepdaughter Alice Lewis Colby. 

A memorial service will be planned for this summer in Ephraim, where we can celebrate the life of Joan, her love of Ephraim and the Great Outdoors, as she used to say. 

Anyone wishing to remember Joani may make a donation to the Ephraim Historical Foundation, Tax ID: 39-6075684 or go to Support Our Mission — Ephraim Historical Foundation and click on the Memorials link.