Joan Overholser Houghton, 96, died peacefully at her home on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, surrounded by her family. Private family services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at First United Methodist Church. Burial will be at Oakland Cemetery. Friends may join the family service by way of a Zoom link which may be found on Joan's obituary page at www.lensingfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to CommUnity Crisis Services at www.builtbycommunity.org or to Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity at www.iowavalleyhabitat.org.
Joan was born Aug. 2, 1924, in Red Oak, Iowa, the daughter of Ralph and Alice (Sprague) Overholser. At age 13, she won the Iowa State spelling contest correctly spelling words such as "syzygy" and "phthisis" going on to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where she met and shook hands with FDR.
She was a graduate of Red Oak High School, attending Cornell College through her sophomore year. She transferred to the University of Iowa, where she received her bachelor's degree in journalism, serving as assistant editor of the Daily Iowan, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board, the president of Theta Sigma Phi and a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
On Sept. 12, 1946, Joan married Clark "Bud" Houghton in Red Oak. The couple moved to Iowa City following Bud's graduation from Iowa Law School and acceptance of a position with First National Bank. Joan's four children were her pride and joy: Steve, Connie, Jim and Cathy. She supported them during their educational years and cheered them on in their sports and extracurricular activities.
Joan was a 75-year member of the First United Methodist Church. She was also a 75-year member of PEO Chapter HI, for which she served as president.
Joan was a strong believer in volunteer work and lived out that passion at Mercy and University hospitals. She also served as president of University Club, playing hostess and greeter for many functions. For many years, Joan was the UNICEF coordinator for card sales in Iowa City. She was so proud of the support they could offer children around the world.
She enjoyed playing golf, tennis, dancing, reading, laughing and socializing with her bridge club friends. Most of all, she loved vacationing at their rustic family cottage in Door County, Wis., on Lake Michigan. Joan appreciated the small things in life: a sunset, the beauty of nature and giggling uncontrollably at a fun game of charades or a family "Gong Show."
In her later years as a widow, she moved to Melrose Meadows Retirement Community in Iowa City. Great affection was evident for the caretakers who tended to Joan, especially Sue Chase who was her loyal attendant for many years. During her 80s and 90s, she enjoyed writing essays on her computer expressing her opinions and sharing memories through the years. These were printed in three books which were distributed to her friends and family.
But most important of all to Joan were her four children and their spouses, Steve and Leora Houghton, Connie and Bill Nelson, Jim and Judy Houghton, Cathy Miller and John Miller; her 13 grandchildren, Cari (Bob) Everhart, Jeff (Michelle) Houghton, Jon (Annie) Houghton, Scott Houghton (Charissa Laisy), Alissa (Jim) Struble, Krista (Shaun) Arnold, Brad (Kelsey) Nelson, David Houghton, Laura Houghton, Heather Houghton, Kyle (Daniela) Miller, Bryan Miller and Carolyn Miller; and 17 great-grandchildren, Ella, Cole and Oscar Everhart, Kylie, Nick, Raelyn and Lucy Houghton, Elias and Rew Houghton, Lydia, Colette, Brynn and Alex Struble, Will and Linnea Arnold, and Berit and Ingrid Nelson.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 57 years, Bud; her grandson, David Houghton; and her brother, Richard Overholser.
Online condolences may be sent to www.lensingfuneral.com.