Joan Sessel

Joan Sessel

1935 - 2020

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Obituary of Joan Sessel

Joan Ann Sessel, 85, passed away of Alzheimer’s Disease on November 15, 2020, in Denver, CO.  She is survived by her husband of 64 years and lifelong partner in all things, Marcus Sessel; her children Mark Sessel (Deborah) of Denver, CO, Maurice Sessel (Kelly) of West Bloomfield, MI, and Mary Sessel-Glassberg (Todd) of New Haven, CT; her grandchildren Joslyn Sessel, Jaclyn Sessel, Jordyn Sessel, Raizy Hines, Talia Sessel, Hadassah Sessel and Bryce Sessel-Glassberg; and seven great‑grandchildren.

Joan was born in St. Louis, MO in 1935, and called St. Louis home for all but the last few years of her life.  She was the eldest of the two children of Frieda and Elmer Rosen, and enjoyed a very close bond with her parents and her beloved sister Elaine (Rosen) Edelman of blessed memory, whom she simply adored.  Joan graduated from Washington University in 1956 with a degree in education. 

Joan was a lifelong learner, with a prodigious intellect and broad range of interests.  She was a voracious reader, and never happier than when learning something new, whether informally or through a class, or when she could share that knowledge.  For example, when traveling she would stop at every roadside historic marker, and her family can recall spending time on the mountain tundra on hands and knees, looking through Joan’s magnifying glass to appreciate the tiny flowers that others would pass by.  She volunteered for 25 summers at Rocky Mountain National Park, one of her favorite places, including assisting with classes offered by the Rocky Mountain Nature Conservancy.

While raising her family in St. Louis, Joan volunteered at her synagogue and with the National Council of Jewish Women, among other organizations.  With her love of learning and education as her motivation, Joan was elected to the Clayton (MO) Board of Education, where she served for 9 years, including 3 years as its chairman.  Joan loved being on the Board of Education, and continually visited the district’s schools, attended all events that she could, helped to negotiate contracts and worked to push the district to integrate.  This was important work to Joan, and her memories of this time remained with her even deep into her Alzheimer’s fog.

Joan’s family was central to her life.  She will be remembered for her never-ending thoughtfulness as she showered family and friends with carefully written notes for every celebratory or difficult occasion or just because, for her ear always willing to listen without judgement, for the holiday parties which brought everyone together, for the helping hand she was always willing to give.  Joan treasured the time with her children and grandchildren and she (and Marcus) made many, many trips over the years to help when needed and to spend time with them. 

If you have a memory of Joan, please share it with the family – they would be very grateful.  A private graveside service will be held Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., with a public livestream on Feldman Mortuary’s YouTube Channel.  Contributions in her memory can be made to The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis ( or to the Alzheimer’s Association.