Joan “Jo” Yanda, 85

Joan “Jo” Yanda, 85, of Webster City, died Friday, September 30, 2022, at Windsor Manor in Webster City. A celebration of JoÕs life was held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 4, 2022, at Trinity Lutheran Church. Visitation will be one-hour prior to the funeral at the church. Graveside services were held at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at Oak Hill Cemetery in Tama, Iowa. Foster Funeral and Cremation Center is entrusted with the services.

Joan Louise Lenhart, daughter of Joseph and Alvina (Friedricks) Lenhart, was born December 29, 1936, in Tama, Iowa. She graduated from Tama High School in 1954. She received her teaching certificate from Iowa State Teachers College (later known as the University of Northern Iowa) and later received her bachelorÕs degree in teaching from the University of Dubuque. In 1957, Jo was united in marriage to Donald William Yanda, whom she later divorced. Her five children and their families were her world! She was so proud of them and enjoyed traveling all over the country to see them.

Jo started her teaching career in 1956 in Blairstown, Iowa, and in 1962 moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, where she became a full-time stay-at-home mom to her five children, a role she cherished most in life. Her family remembers her as the “life of the party.” Her love for her family was boundless, and no family dinner was ever complete without “MomÕs famous rolls.”

In 1980, she moved to Ames, Iowa, and in 1982 she relocated to Las Vegas to resume her teaching career. She was originally hired as a middle school English teacher but quickly found her passion as a drama teacher. She pioneered a successful drama program and was later hired as Director of Cheyenne High SchoolÕs drama department. She put on numerous plays, musical productions and her famous “Putting on the Hits” annual production. Jo, affectionately known as “Yoda,” loved the kids as much as they loved her and was a mentor and friend to countless students, many of whom she continued to stay in contact with.

Jo retired in 2004 and moved “home” to Maquoketa, Iowa. She loved her house, her garden full of amazing flowers, playing bridge and entertaining her friends and family. In 2011, Jo adopted her best friend, Suni Rae, her beloved dog. Suni was her constant companion and became a very well-traveled dog! In 2021, Jo and Suni moved to Webster City, Iowa, where they both made new friends and won over the hearts of the staff and residents of Windsor Manor.

She is survived by her children: Dr. Randy (Jennie) Yanda, of Marietta, GA; Dr. Mike (Carol) Yanda, of Webster City, IA; Leanne (Kerry) Ogata, of Seattle, WA; Jill (Jim) Merrick, of Sammamish, WA; and David (Aschley) Yanda, of Oakland, CA. Jo is also survived by 13 grandchildren, six great grandchildren, several nieces and nephews and her beloved dog, Suni.

In addition to her parents, Jo is preceded in death by her siblings: Johnnie Lenhart, Bernice Pagel, Clifford Lenhart and Donald Lenhart.