We are here to close the final chapter of Joann Blehm’s life. If adversity builds character, then Joann’s personality was molded at an early age and to say she had a hard life is an understatement. We know Joann met this adversity with her fists up ready for the fight. Joann did not go down easy.
Joann loved living on her farm. She was proud to carry on the agricultural heritage from her grandparents, both the Krug’s and Elder’s but particularly the Elders. She lived all her adult life on the place they established in 1918. Grandad Elder (J.S) and Grannie Mom (Maude) doted and spoiled Joann; not only because she was an only child, but because she was their precious granddaughter. She brought joy and a deep love to their lives. You might say this is because she was a replacement for their daughter, Helen who died as a child. But most likely it was because she was Joann whose character and language made her a truly unique person. Ask yourself have you ever known anyone like Joann? It is doubtful.
When Joann Elder and Tony Blehm married in 1951 it was the beginning of a partnership in marriage and farming. Together they worked to maintain and improve the farm and therefore their lives. Two sons joined them: Mike in 1953 and Kevin in 1954. The boys learned the value of work from their father and learned shrewd financial management from their mother. Tony’s tragic death in 1972 brought an end to another chapter of Joann’s life. Many people would have curled up in the corner after a spouse’s untimely death. But not Joann, her astute understanding of how to make and keep a dollar, in a volatile industry such as farming, sustained Joann after Tony’s death. Joann continued to farm with the help of her sons and Jack and Pearl Mair.
Joann was the quintessential farmwoman providing support, financial knowledge and helping with the cattle. Joan partook in the day to day operation until the time of her death.
We cannot remember Joann without talking about animals. She loved her critters, especially her cats. Pusser, her black and white tom cat, who lived to be 20 years old was one of her favorites. Not many people could tell Joann anything but when Pusser wanted something Joann made sure his every need was met. How else could a cat live to be this old? Joann and Pusser’s favorite pastime was lying on the couch watching television.
Joann was always interested in history, particularly anything about Wellington and Northern Larimer County. Wellington celebrated its centennial in 2005. The Elder-Blehm Farm was recognized as a Heritage Farm. Joann and grandson, Reggan, rode in the parade as family representatives. She was proud of her heritage and her grandsons, Kennan and Reggan, being the fifth generation of Elder blood to live on the farm section.
She was a strong believer in agriculture. Often Joann was a single voice of reason for agricultural advocacy in the midst of the chaotic population growth and development of Larimer County. Several newspaper articles featured Joann talking about drought, land and water use. Many local boards knew Joann’s point view would be distinctive and powerful even before she spoke. Many times Joann said what others were afraid to say. Joann believed in individual rights and most particularly in private property rights. Joann could have written the Thoreau quote “If I am not I, who will I be?” Many of us know it was hard to hold your own, let alone win a verbal argument with Joann. She had her own set of convictions and expressed them with a no holds bar attitude.
Joann was a rare individual. The current world seems to thrive and nurture people who follow the crowd and not raise a ruckus. Colleges put a high priority on teaching students to work cooperatively and to get along at all costs. We know Joann would not agree. In fact, she would raise a ruckus about people who acted like sheep following each other to their demise. Thoreau may have had a Joann in mind when he wrote: “If man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears however, measured or far away”. Joann was indeed a different drummer.
A Celebration of Life Service was held at Bohlender Funeral Chapel and a private interment was held at Grandview Cemetery. Friends may send condolences to the family at bohlenderfuneralchapel.com.