JoAnn Watney Harold passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 4, at the age of 94.
She is survived by her nine kids: David Harold, Chris Gabriel (Claudia), Daniel Harold, Dave Gabriel (Jana), Sarah Jane Miller (Matt), William Gabriel (Kim), Peter Gabriel (Francie), Kevin Harold (Jane) and Robert Harold (Liz) and her many beloved nieces, nephews, grandkids, great grandkids and great great grandkids. She is reunited with her husband, Robert Emmett Harold, who passed away in 2001.
JoAnn was born to Cornelius Watney and Dorothy Munsell, in New Jersey, 1929, but she really was a Portland, Oregon native. She lived here her whole life along with her little brother, Bill Watney. She attended Alameda Elementary School. Whenever Alameda was brought up, she would recite the Alameda chant: A-L-A-M-E-D-A, Alameda Alameda ray, ray, ray. After Alameda, she went to Grant High School. There she made the core of her friendships that she would have the rest of her life. As she said, “That was a Golden Era.”
She went on to Oregon State for two years and belonged to the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. She left college and moved back to Portland where she married her high school sweetheart William (Bill) Gabriel. They had four children Chris, Dave, Bill and Pete Gabriel. JoAnn and Bill divorced in 1961. Raising four boys as a single mom was not easy, but JoAnn persevered.
JoAnn would eventually find employment with the Portland Public Schools where she worked as a secretary at Boise Elementary. She loved it there. She loved the staff, the community, the kids, and she eventually met the true love of her life, Robert (Bob) E. Harold. Bob was the vice-principal at Boise and he would go on to become the principal at Eliot Elementary where he started the nationally renowned 'Follow Through Program'.
They were married in 1969 and merged the Harold family of five kids: David, Danny, Sarah Jane, Kevin, and Robbie with the three Gabriel boys. Chris had moved away. They moved into a house and called it the HaGa Hacienda. These were truly the “Golden Days'' for JoAnn. This was the genesis of her becoming the infamous “Grammy”. The matriarch of 9 children and their spouses, 28 grandchildren,31 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren. JoAnn had found her calling surrounded by the love of her husband and continually growing family.
She worked at Bridlemile Elementary her last years in the Portland Public Schools before she retired. In retirement, Bob and she would host events at the Hacienda, travel to see the kids and grandkids around the country, travel abroad, and go down to their beach house (Munsell House) in Lincoln City. They were always a sanctuary for return visits to the Portland area for distant families. They would host family events for Christmas every year. On other occasions, Bob would make his famous spaghetti, Rueben sandwiches, homemade peppermint ice cream or country-style spare ribs cooked in sauerkraut. JoAnn would continue Bob’s most infamous saying “Oh say!” which she continued to say until the end.
When Bob passed in 2001, JoAnn had lost her soul mate. She still would make sure to stay in touch with all her children and grandchildren, provide a place to stay for those of the family that needed a sanctuary, and be the glue that held the HaGa family together.
JoAnn lived her last 8 years at Westhills Village in Multnomah, where she brought joy to everyone who knew her. Nearing the end, JoAnn was ready to cross over and be with her people that have gone on before her. Her tiny body had worn out and she passed peacefully surrounded by family. She will be sorely missed. The hole left by her absence will never be filled. The lessons on community building and loving friends and family will continue because she led by example, and she is someone that we want to emulate.
Good bye JoAnn, Joey, Mom, Grammy. You will always be with us. Thank you.