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Obituary of JoAnn Wickman

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JoAnn G. Wickman, 81, of Cortland, died following a long illness on October 5, 2023, at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester.


JoAnn was born on February 25, 1942, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of the late Joseph and Gordia (Mayland) Wandas. She grew up in Austin, Minnesota, and graduated from Austin High School in 1960. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1964.JoAnn considered attending Smith one of the pivotal decisions of her life and was a loyal alumna, becoming an active member of her local Smith Club and presenting the Smith Book Award at local high schools.

After marrying Kenneth P. Wickman in 1964, JoAnn began her career as a social studies teacher at Easthampton High School while living in Amherst, Massachusetts. She and her husband moved to Cortland in 1968, and she earned a master’s degree in secondary social studies at SUNY Cortland. In the 1970s, JoAnn’s professional focus shifted, and she became certified as a special education teacher. She taught teenagers with learning and behavioral challenges at DeWitt Junior High School in Ithaca and Cortland OCM BOCES. In 1980, she began teaching at Cortland High School.

In 1987, she earned a certificate of advanced study in educational administration. That fall, she accepted a full-time position as chair of the Committee on Special Education for the Cortland City School District. However, she didn’t want to leave classroom teaching entirely, and spent the rest of her career serving as both a teacher and an administrator, retiring in 2000.

JoAnn was passionate about the arts, particularly music. A member of Holy Spirt Lutheran Church (later Grace and Holy Spirit), JoAnn sang in the church choir, occasionally as a soloist. She also sang in the Choral Union at SUNY Cortland. JoAnn regularly attended symphony and opera performances throughout Central New York, and was a decades-long subscriber to Syracuse Stage. She thoroughly enjoyed excursions to New York City and Toronto to attend various musicals.

For over 50 years, JoAnn was committed to improving the lives of Cortland residents. She participated in an outreach program at the county jail, helping inmates learn to read. For several years, she was chair of the Community Services Board, overseeing services for mental health, developmental disabilities, and alcohol/substance abuse. She was a founding member, chairperson, and organizing force for the establishment of
Cortland Area Communities That Care. For almost 20 years, she helped to organize and promote the Arts at Grace, a free concert series for the community held at Grace and Holy Spirit. In addition, she was a contributing member of several local organizations, including AAUW, Rotary, Ladies’ Literary, and the YWCA. She was frequently recognized for outstanding dedication and leadership in her community.

JoAnn’s reach extended beyond her adopted hometown of Cortland. She maintained numerous lifelong friendships with classmates from high school and college. She spent summers at Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks, and served on the Board of Trustees. She and her husband also traveled extensively around the world.

JoAnn is survived by her daughters Sarah (Sam) Barbuto and Margaret Wickman, both of Liverpool, N.Y., as well as three grandchildren: Kevin, Joseph, and Lisa Barbuto of Liverpool. She was predeceased by her husband, Kenneth Wickman, and her sister, Thelma Andersen.

Funeral services will be conducted on Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 2:30 pm at Grace and Holy Spirit Church, Court St., Cortland, N.Y., Rev. Thomas Margrave officiating, with a reception afterward. The family will be present to receive friends at the church at 12:30 pm prior to the service. Interment will take place privately in Cortland Rural Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor JoAnn’s memory are encouraged to consider donations to Cortland Area Communities That Care, the Kenneth P. and JoAnn G. Wickman Scholarship at SUNY Cortland, the Smith Fund at Smith College, or a charity of their choosing.

To offer online condolences, please visit www.wright-beard.com

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