Cherry Blossoms

JoAnne Nordling

November 2, 1934 ~ March 4, 2022 (age 87)


November 2, 1934, Windom, Minnesota

March 4, 2022, Beaverton, Oregon

JoAnne was born to Verle and Dora (Funston) Swenston on November 2, 1934, in Windom, Minnesota. JoAnne was the third child of eleven and sister to Carla, Duane, John (died as an infant), Janet, Doris, Bruce, John, Desmond, David, and Steven.

JoAnne met George Nordling in 1951 at the age of 16 while working as a waitress at a restaurant in Britton, S.D. He was employed by a geological survey crew there and frequented the restaurant where she worked. He asked her out on a date, but not knowing him well enough, she hesitated. A girlfriend of hers convinced her to double date. On their first date alone, they drove in George’s 1947 Ford to the Sisseton School playground. They also drove to a lake east of town. On the way back, he asked her to the movies. He would often walk her home after work. After a week, he was in love. Being almost 8 years older than JoAnne and finding out she was only 16, he stopped seeing her for a few days but in the end, he couldn’t stay away. He decided the age difference didn’t matter and asked her to marry him.

George and JoAnne were married in San Francisco on August 17, 1952, in a small ceremony at Chapel of the Chimes. Their honeymoon was spent camping in the Redwoods. They then set up house in a small apartment in Sherwood, Oregon. They had four sons in five years (Dirk, Eric, Chris, and Craig) and during that time, moved to Tigard. JoAnne then began her college education, attending night school at Portland State College. She eventually attended Lewis and Clark College as well, ultimately earning two master’s degrees.

JoAnne and George loved the outdoors. Family time was spent camping at the Oregon Coast and the lakes around Mount Hood. Traveling the world, they visited Canada, Mexico, Egypt, Syria, Petra (Jordan), China, Sweden, Russia, and Greece. While traveling in Damascus, Syria, they got lost in an enormous souk for a long time and couldn't talk to anyone because of the language barrier. Fortunately, they encountered an Englishman, who was amazed to find them there wandering and lost. They asked him for the way out. He replied that they wouldn't be able to follow his complicated directions, so he kindly then led them back to their hotel.

Maui was a special vacation spot which they visited many times. They bought a condo there, selling it after a few years. They loved family stays at Black Butte Ranch in Central Oregon. One year they traveled around the county for 3 months in a fifth wheel visiting all the highlights of the US. They loved playing poker with their friends, liked parties and trips to the beach with their Sherwood friend’s group. They cherished their stays near the ocean in their Otter Crest condo. She and George loved family trips to the Oregon Coast with their sons’ families, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Family poker games, walks on the beach, and campfires roasting marshmallows were a highlight of family vacations.

JoAnne worked as a librarian, a teacher, and a counselor. As a librarian, she encountered children with challenging behaviors. She decided the best way to help these troubled students was to go into counseling. Returning to school, she earned a master’s in counseling and became a compassionate counselor helping children find solutions to everyday life situations.

George was a huge part of her life. She once said that her life was divided into three parts, before George, George, and after George. The third part of her life began in 2008.

One of JoAnne’s proudest collaborative efforts is the Parent Support Center in Portland. JoAnne co-founded this organization with a focus on aid to parents and teachers navigating difficult times in their lives raising and understanding children by offering training, workshops, materials, resources, inspiration and ongoing support to parents and educators at a low cost. JoAnne will be remembered for co-founding the Portland Parent Support Center that was based on her book Caring Discipline: Practical Tools for Nurturing Happy Families and Classrooms and Taking Charge: Caring Discipline That Works at Home and at School. She also published Dear Faculty: A Discovery Method Guidebook to the High School Library, Love is Like Ice Cream, and her last novel Potluck on Gaia.

JoAnne joined WHUUF, West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in 1957 and was active in the Buddhist group. She once ran for the state legislature as a Democrat but lost to the incumbent.

Joanne will be best be remembered as “Loving” by her family and friends. She was understanding, compassionate, and accepting of all kinds of people and she had many, many friends. She believed the entire universe consists of a universal source of energy, that nothing is gone, it only changes. She believed that her energy is still with us now, but only in a different form.

JoAnne is predeceased by her husband George, her parents Verle and Dora Swenston, sister Carla, and brothers Bruce and Desmond.

JoAnne is survived by brothers Duane, John, David, and Steve, and sisters, Janet Murphy and Doris Wells. She is also survived by her four sons, three daughter’s in-law, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

A memorial/celebration will be held at:

WHUUF (West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship)

8470 SW Oleson Road, Portland, Oregon 97223

on Saturday, May 7, at 10:00 am.


Remembrances in honor of JoAnne’s memory may be made to Parent Support Center of Portland, Oregon.















To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of JoAnne Nordling, please visit our floral store.


May 7, 2022

10:00 AM
West Hills Universalist Fellowship
8470 SW Oleson Road
Portland, OR 97223


Parent Support Center

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