Joan Florence Arrivee was born August 21, 1920 at Mondak, Montana in a log cabin owned by her father Charles Louis Arrivee. Joan Wagenblast passed away on Wednesday, January 14, 2015. Charles was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 22, 1885, sixth of seven children, with father Abraham Arrivee and mother Johanna Augusta Schenck. His father’s family was French Canadian and his mother came from Germany as a child in 1840. Charles graduated from a technical high school in St. Paul in 1907. He had spent his summers and later had a career in surveying for railroad construction throughout the far West.
Joan’s mother was Florence Lebkicher, second child of Colin Bard Lebkicher of Freeport, Illinois, and Florence Wallace of Cedar Rapids, Iowa where they met. Florence Lebkicher, born April 3, 1893 in Helena, Montana, attended school in Missoula and graduated from Winona Teacher’s College in 1915. She taught school in Mondak, where she met Charles, owner of a dry-goods store which he had acquired from his father and mother who had moved to Mondak. They were married June 10, 1918 and July 23, 1919 gave birth to a son, Charles Louis Arrivee, Jr.
The family moved to Bainville, Montana when Joan was three. She attended grade school in Miles City where her Lebkicher grandparents lived, Roundup, Bainville, and finally Wolf Point from where she graduated in 1938. After a year in Montana State College, Bozeman, she transferred to the University of Montana, Missoula, where she gained a degree in English and an associate degree in history in 1944. She was a member of the Freshman Women’s Alpha Pi Delta, Kappa Tau Senior Honor Society, and graduated with honors as a member of Social Sorority Sigma Kappa. For several years she worked as a secretary for the War Department of the Corps of Engineers at Fort Peck, and then to San Francisco for the Arabian American Oil Co.
Joan and her husband, Elden Wagenblast, met in San Francisco in May 1946 through one of his Salem cousins, Jean Nieswander. They were married September 28, 1946 in Salem, Oregon and moved to the Kuck ranch on Fifteen Mile Creek where he was in wheat ranching with his brother Earl. They acquired a cattle business and took over the ranch in 1958. They retired in 1985, but did not move into The Dalles until September 1993. They had three children, Debra, David (wife Megan), and Lucinda, four grandchildren, Mariah Florence Miner, Katrina Lorraine Gates, Paul David Wagenblast, Hannah Kiza Wagenblast and three great-grandchildren, Dahlia Florence,Bella Gloria McNeice, and Caton Gates.
Joan’s activities were Home Extension, 4H leadership, Social Sorority Beta Sigma Phi, Women’s Aglow, The Dalles Emblem Club, Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society, along with playing bridge and pinochle. She wrote articles for newspapers, The Dalles Optimist, The Dalles Chronicle and Farmer’s Union, along with a column in the Optimist, entitled There’s Always Room, and a poetry column in The Dufur Dispatch. She has had poetry published and a book of poetry Centennial Coins in 1964, Flora’s Song in 1993. Musical comedy The Wind Blows West was staged in 1964 and 1984. Books being planned for publishing are Whispers in the Wind, The Story of Petersburg and her mother’s story, A Little Girl Called Florence and When Mother Went to Mondak.
Funeral services will be held at Spencer, Libby & Powell on Thursday, January 22 at 1 p.m. The family wishes to express a special thank you to Providence Hospice of the Gorge and the staff at Flagstone Retirement Center.
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