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Audrey Joan (Rickstrew) "Joan" Williamson

Audrey Joan (Rickstrew) "Joan" Williamson
  • June 30, 1935 - January 1, 2017
  • Needham, Massachusetts

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Audrey Joan Williamson, "Joan", 81, of Needham, Massachusetts, passed away on January 1, 2017 from complications of Alzheimer's.
Joan was born in Guthrie, OK on June 30, 1935 to Mildred Louise and Albert Audry Rickstrew. Two years later Joan's baby sister, Jean Elizabeth, was born, also in Guthrie. Around 1941 the family moved to Fort Smith, AR where Joan attended Duval Elementary School. After her father's death in June 1946, the family moved back to Oklahoma, settling in Ripley.

Joan attended the Ripley schools, graduating in 1953 as Ripley High School's valedictorian. Following high school graduation, she completed one year of college at Oklahoma A&M, majoring in Business.

In June 1954 Joan married Russell Leon ("Bo") Williamson, also of Ripley. Following their wedding, the couple moved to Wichita Falls, TX where Bo attended a U.S. Air Force training session prior to his transfer to Puerto Rico. In 1956, during their stay in the islands, Bo and Jo had a son, Michael Allen. Shortly after Mike's birth, Bo was transferred to Tucson, Arizona where Shirley Marie was born in 1957.

Joan worked as a secretary in a local Tucson law firm until Bo was transferred to Salina, KS in 1960. In Kansas, Joan resumed her pursuit of an undergraduate degree through several moves, attending Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS; Eastern New Mexico University, in Portales, NM; and finally the University of Delaware where she graduated with Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and her Master's Degree in Education in the 1970s.

In Delaware Joan also began her long and beloved teaching career as a substitute at Felton Elementary School, moving quickly to a full time teaching position at Lake Forest High School. Joan rose to the position of English Department Chairman for several years prior to her retirement in 1996.

On retirement from teaching, she and Bo moved to Hilton Head Island, SC where they built a house, enjoyed golf, book club and volunteer work at the local library. In 2008, Bo and Jo moved back to Oklahoma. Following Bo's death in 2009, Joan moved to Texas to be near her sister Jean and then to Needham, MA in 2014 to be near her daughter Shirley.

Joan is survived by her sister Jean Pilcher, of Carrollton, TX, her two children Shirley Marie Williamson, of Needham, MA and Michael Allen Williamson, of Colorado Springs, CO and her grandson Christopher James Williamson of Seattle, WA.

The family will hold a private celebration of Joan's life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to the University of Delaware General Scholarship Fund ( or for Alzheimer's research at the Alzheimer's Association ( The family wishes to thank the Briarwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center's Cypress Street staff for the loving care they provided "Jo" during her time there.