Obituary for Joan Dayton |

Obituary for Joan Dayton

Joan Dayton

November 12, 1930 – April 12, 2021

Joan Everett Dayton passed away on April 12, 2021, surrounded by her husband and children. She was 90 years old.

Born November 12, 1930, in Oakland, California, to Margaret and William Blanks Everett, Joan was educated in Oakland public schools and in 1948 graduated from Oakland High School as a class valedictorian. That fall she entered Stanford University, graduating in June 1952 with a degree in education.

In fall 1952, she began teaching fifth grade in Los Altos, California. In June 1954, she met Alfred, the love of her life, a lieutenant in the US Air Force. They married in July 1955, and lived in Los Altos while he completed graduate work at Stanford. In June 1957, they moved to Oakland, California and began their family. Jonathan arrived soon after, in July 1957, Jennifer in 1958, Margaret in 1961, and Peter in 1962.

In 1963, the family moved to Grass Valley, California, where Al opened a new office of Wells Fargo Bank. Grass Valley was a wonderful place to raise children and Joan was very happy there. In 1970, the family moved to Walnut Creek, California, where she continued her teaching career and the children grew and left home for college. In 1994, she and Al moved to Nevada City, California. These were also very happy times for Joan, enjoying the company of her children and traveling throughout the world. In 2019, as aging took its toll, she and Al moved to the assisted living community at Eskaton in Grass Valley. These last years were hard for Joan as her physical and mental condition declined, but she and Al continued to find ways to enjoy life together.

Joan had many passions in her life. First was her children and family. She enjoyed the times with her children more than any others, while raising them in their younger years, and continuing to treasure their company and support throughout her life.

Houses were another of her passions. Before leaving Grass Valley, she and Al purchased an old house in Nevada City, and over the years restored it to become a wonderful gathering place for the family. In 2000, Joan and Al visited their daughter, then living in Nova Scotia, Canada. There they found a house on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, purchased it and restored it to a retreat for family and friends. Over the following two decades, they visited there three or more times a year, enjoying its views and most of all, the friendly people of Spry Bay Village.

Travel was another passion. She and Al spent two months in 1957 traveling throughout England and Europe. When the children were young, she took them to Great Britain and Europe on a steamship traveling from San Francisco to London. She took them on several other trips to the UK and Europe, frequently accompanied by her mother or friends of the children. When daughter Jennifer and her husband moved to Paris, France, another great travel opportunity opened up, leading to several trips a year to visit them, often combined with river cruises in Europe, which she and Al loved. And if all this weren’t enough, with a friend Joan organized and led “Castles and Cottages” excursions, guided tours of the English countryside over many years.

No account of her life would be complete without acknowledgment of her love of teaching. Despite a demanding family life, Joan found time to teach in a variety of settings and levels. These ranged from a nursery school in Grass Valley (where she was co-director), to various elementary grades in different public schools, to high school Latin, to an art school for children that Joan founded in Palo Alto. Teaching first grade for many years at Holbrook Elementary School in Concord, California, she made a point to visit her students’ homes for parent-teacher conferences, allowing her to better know her students and the households they came from. Many generations of Joan’s students would later attest to the positive contribution she made to their education and to their lives.

Joan was an avid reader and member of three book clubs. The group she founded with her fellow teachers at Holbrook remains active today, over forty years later. Her collection of children’s books is legendary and will be a wonderful part of her legacy for generations of our family.

Joan was a force of nature and a people person. Her love of life and art left enduring impressions on those around her — on her children (all of whom became artists) and grandchildren, her friends, her students, her neighbors, her travel companions…anyone she ever encountered. Joan had a vision of the life she wanted and through passion and conviction, she found a way to live it, and to share it with others.

Joan is survived by Al, her husband of 65 years, by her children, Jonathan (Valerie Faris), Jennifer (Jeff Dayton-Johnson), and Peter (Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton ), six grandchildren, and one great grandson. She was preceded in death by her daughter Maggie.

For more photos and testimonies to Joan, and to leave your own note, please visit:

Arrangements were handled by the Neptune Society. Donations in Joan’s memory may be made to Clausen House of Oakland, California (, Hospice of the Foothills (, or to the charity of your choice.

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