April 4, 1935 ~ Oct. 15, 2020
Our beloved Joann went to be with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Thursday, October 15th at Autumn Grove Cottage in Katy, Texas. Her daughter was by her side. She died from a decline related to dementia. Her death was not from Covid-19 nor from the GBM brain tumor she survived 14 years ago.
Dorothy Joann Dickson Duren was born at home on April 4, 1935. She was born in Precinct 8, near South Bend, TX. There was often mention of the tiny town of Eliasville, “near the Clear Fork of the Brazos,” that she probably would remind us to mention. Her parents were John Monroe Dickson and Alvis Evelyn Lewis Dickson. She lived in this part of Young County until her father died from an accident. Eventually, her mother moved with Joann, as she was called throughout her life, and her sister Janet to Graham, Texas. Once there, Evelyn met and married Kyle Eugene Ball. Joann would have described her childhood in Graham with one of her favorite words, “Wonderful.” She graduated from Graham High School in 1953. Shortly before she went to Denton to attend North Texas State College, her parents moved to Mineral Wells where she would later meet John Robert Duren. At North Texas she was a member of Chi Omega sorority and the Green Jackets. Many of the friends she met during this time remained in her address book her entire life. She graduated from college in August 1956 with a B.S. degree in Home Economics. Joann and John were married on November 10, 1956. She and John first lived in Fort Worth where their daughter, Karen Lynn was born in 1957. They moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico before the birth of the second daughter, Rebecca Lee in 1958. Their son, Mark Eugene was born in 1960 before they moved back to Austin, Texas. Joann worked at Austin State School teaching Home Economics classes to high school-age students. This was a job that changed her career path and enabled John to finish law school. The Durens lived in Austin until October 1967 when they moved to Copperas Cove, Texas where John began his law practice. Joann began her work at CCISD as an elementary special education teacher with a small group of students, so small that she would load her students in her station wagon and take them for a day of adventure. Over time the special education needs of CCISD began to grow and Joann became Director of Special Education. At one time, she directed the programs in Copperas Cove, Lampasas, and Gatesville as a cooperative. Eventually, the co-op dissolved and after time she remained the Director of Special Education for Copperas Cove ISD. During her employment with CCISD, she drove nights and summers to Baylor University in Waco to complete her Master of Science in Education in August 1970 and her Doctor of Education in August 1978. She retired from CCISD in November 1990.
Words that would describe Joann’s personality would be optimistic, loving, accepting, nurturing, determined, energetic, and faithful. She was a traveler. As a teenager, her family took road trips both east and west. Joann was the bold one who drove though New York City. Throughout her life she was willing to drive anywhere. In the 1970s she drove a gooseneck trailer across the border to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico because she wanted chairs and barstools. She was a doer. She didn’t wait for optimal conditions nor did she procrastinate. She was a morning person who woke up cheerful and got to work doing whatever tasks she chose for the day. She was not one to use the snooze button. She was a peacemaker. She had a strong desire for harmony. She deeply loved her children and her family. Her relationship with each was unique. Her nephew, Lance said he didn’t consider a visit with his Aunt Jody successful unless he got her to say “Big Dummy” at least once. Her other nephew, Robert, remembers her driving him around Brownwood because he was very young and took her “come visit” too literally. She eagerly welcomed all. When Lance’s girlfriend Lauren first met “Aunt Jody” she was a bit nervous, but before she knew it Joann had given her a great big hug, said “This must be Lauren and the boys.” She did not have favorites. Her “in-law” children would say that she did not favor one of her own children nor did she favor her own children over them. She was generous in many ways with all.
Joann accepted Jesus as her savior during a summer camp with friends from her church in Graham. Her faith was a part of her life but became even more important after her retirement when she had time to thoroughly study the Bible. Some of her studies were at church, but some were self-guided. She was grateful for the direction she received under her pastor, Charles Gibson, who prompted her to continue exploring God’s word. She was fortunate to serve with others at Southern Hills Baptist Church who bonded deeply with one another. She was lovingly supported by these brothers and sisters during her battle with stage 4 brain cancer. Many prayers were lifted for her during this time by this church family and Christians from other times in her life including neighbors, coworkers, and lifelong friends. Joann often said that she wanted for herself “whatever the Lord willed” for her. Her desire was to glorify God.
While studying the Bible was a great passion for Joann, she also enjoyed both sides of her vocation—sewing and cooking—but sewing usually won. She sewed curtains many times, covered bed headboards, and crafted other home decorating projects. When Karen and Becky were young, she would look through back-to-school ads in the newspaper and stay up late after working to sew dresses for them. Mark got superhero capes. While sewing was more often her passion, she enjoyed cooking, especially crepes, quiche, and Chicken-on-the-Ritz when she entertained friends and family in her home. Being at the Durens during the holidays meant looking for the pralines, divinity, fudge, Christmas cookies and other festive foods. But not all her kitchen endeavors were appreciated by all. Her children remember more-often-than-not, she burned the okra. Landscaping and tending to her flower beds was another enjoyment. She loved vivid colors, variety, and perennials. Each year she would go Bluebonnet and wildflower hunting which combined two passions—driving and flowers. She once told her nephew, Lance that “I can see more interesting things (like wildflowers) while I’m driving than my passengers do.” Her passions were overlapping. She began oil painting and almost all her paintings included flowers. She learned to paint from Elaine Peterson, a neighbor who lived just down the street in Copperas Cove. She painted every Tuesday with Elaine, Sharon Young, Eunice Hardeman, and Carol Diller for over 10 years. Thanks to Elaine’s teaching, family and friends gratefully own her paintings.
All during her life, Joann enjoyed joining organizations. In Copperas Cove she was a member of American Association of University Women, AAUW. The professional organization she devoted most of her time to was TCASE, Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education including being President. She was also on the Board of Directors for Hope Pregnancy Center in Copperas Cove.
She was preceded in death by her husband, John Robert Duren; her father John Monroe Dickson; her mother, Alvis Evelyn Lewis Dickson Ball; her stepfather, Kyle Eugene Ball; her sister, Billie Janet Dickson Anderson; her brother-in-law, Philip Dean Anderson; and her nephew, David James Anderson.
She is survived by her children: Karen and Ken Hagin of Katy, TX; Becky and Roland Otts of Mena, AR; and Mark and Jana Duren of North Little Rock, AR; her grandchild: Justin and Kelly Otts of Mena, AR; her greatgrandchild, Landon Otts; her aunt, Fay Lewis of Wichita Falls TX; cousins: Ricky and Patty Lewis, Wichita Falls, TX, Sandra Wesley of Graham, TX; sisters-in-law: Mary Duren Lofton, of Little Rock, AR and Lois Duren Moffatt Timm of Houston, AR; nephews: Lance and Lauren Anderson of Brownwood, TX and Robert Anderson of Arlington, TX; nieces: Laurie Lofton, Lindy Harrel, and Kimberly Hines, all of Little Rock, AR; Great nephews: Chase and Loriann Pulley of Fort Worth, TX and Aaron Pulley of Brownwood.
Her family wishes to sincerely thank her caregivers at Autumn Grove Cottage in Katy, TX. They loved and cared for her every need the last six years of her life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial donation to one of the charities that Joann supported:
Hope Pregnancy Center, 601 S. Main St., Copperas Cove, TX 76522, www.hopepc.com
Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, N C. 28607, www.samaritanspurse.org
To celebrate more of Joann’s life and tell your own Joann stories please go online to www.crawfordbowers.org