Joanne Marie McPherson (age 75) died on June 23, 2022, at her home in McLean, Virginia surrounded by family. She is survived by her husband, Peter McPherson; children, Susan McPherson Shea (Jack), Marc Bielawski, Bruce McPherson (Hanh), Michael Kircher (Donna); and seven grandchildren.
The daughter of Patrick and Catherine Paddock, she was born October 22, 1946, in Washington, DC. Joanne attended the University of Maryland at College Park.
Joanne accomplished many things in her lifetime. Peter served as MSU’s president from 1993 to 2005, and Joanne served as First Lady of Michigan State University. During that time, she founded Safe Place, the first shelter at any university to house and protect victims of domestic violence and stalking, and their families. Joanne was awarded the Honorary Alumni Award from the MSU Alumni Association. She also was known for revitalizing Homecoming at the university, helping to transform many traditional celebratory events to focus on student academic and public service achievement. While at MSU, she was known for opening the President’s residence, Cowles House, to numerous fund-raising, alumni, and faculty and student events. Joanne was also appointed by Gov. John Engler to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.
Visitation will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Roth-Gerst Funeral Chapel, 305 Hudson, Lowell, Michigan 49331. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 1, 2022, at Vergennes United Methodist Church, 10411 Bailey Dr. NE, Lowell, Michigan 49331. Interment Bailey Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to MSU Safe Place, 155 Service Road, Room 113A, East Lansing, MI 48824.
(Published by The Washington Post on Jun. 26, 2022.)