WILMINGTON — Joan Carolyn McKenzie Chason, 83, died Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, at Lower Cape Fear Hospice & LifeCare Center.
She was born April 24, 1935, in Wilmington, the daughter of the late George Robert McKenzie and Marie Costin McKenzie. Also remembered is her brother, the Rev. George Robert McKenzie, and his wife, Frances Tuttle McKenzie, both of whom preceded her in death.
She knew her Lord and is survived by her husband of over 61 years, Lloyd Ralph Chason; daughter, Lynn Green, and her husband, Ralph, of Fort Worth, Texas; son, Michael Chason, and his wife, Jan, of Meadow Vista, California; and two grandsons, Chris Green, and his fiance, Christin Fletcher, and Andrew Green, and his wife, Susan.
Joan graduated from New Hanover High School in 1953 and East Carolina College, now East Carolina University, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education in 1957. She met her husband, Ralph, during their sophomore year at ECC and married after graduation on June 16, 1957. Military life began after their wedding as Ralph was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
The next 25 years were spent being stationed twice at James Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas, twice at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a year in Vietnam. Joan then taught music for the Wilmington school district, and finally at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where Ralph retired from the U.S. Air Force.
Civilian life began in Los Angeles, California, and continued in San Francisco, California, before moving back to Wilmington for retirement in 1997.
Joan sang in choirs for more than 65 years. These choral groups included New Hanover High School choirs; East Carolina College choirs; and community choruses, such as, Masterworks Chorale in Thousand Oaks, California, for which she served as assistant director; and East Bay Chorale in Danville, California. She also sang in several church choirs over the years: Trinity UMC, Wilmington; Jarvis Memorial UMC, Greenville; Austin Avenue UMC, Waco, Texas; First UMC, Waco, Texas; First UMC, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Christ UMC, Dayton, Ohio; Westlake UMC, Westlake, California, where she also served as assistant director; and San Ramon Valley, Danville, California, where she served as director. Joan also served as director for many years of choruses associated with officers’ wives clubs and The Skylarks at the Air Force Bases where she and Ralph were stationed.
She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and a member of PEO, which is a philanthropic educational organization that supports the continuing education for women. She was initiated into Chapter UL, Thousand Oaks, California, transferred to and was a president of Chapter OF, in Lafayette, California, and was a charter member as well as a president for Chapter BW in Wilmington.
Joan was very proud of Ralph’s service to our country. She took on her role as an officer’s wife with great energy and determination making sure all details were correctly done. Civilian life was no different. Every job she had, whether paid or service-oriented, was completed with excellence, eagerness and a smile.
Some of Joan’s joys in life were her many friends and really anything social that included them. She was a girlfriend’s girlfriend who loved to talk, was fun and full of laughter, yet was always warm and caring. She often said that if she hadn’t had the opportunity to live in different places, she’d never have known and loved all her dear friends she met along the way.
Her children, which included their spouses and her grandchildren, were a source of great happiness and loving attention whether they were together or talking long distance on the phone. Mama Joan would always save her best North Carolinian Southern expressions for moments of advice or just for plain laughter. Mike and Lynn will have a difficult time not being able to make their daily calls to their Mom.
The 61-year love affair with her husband Ralph can’t be adequately described in print. Their devotion to each other was always evident. Even when Ralph was in Vietnam, they wrote letters to each other every day. They shared their love of music, singing together in most of the choirs mentioned above, and shared their love of travel to many places in the world with choral groups, friends and family.
The family would like to thank Lower Cape Fear Hospice for their gentle care of Joan in her final days, Trinity Grove for their continued loving care of Ralph and for her new community at Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall. Their staff, and particularly her dear friends there, gave our family a huge sense of peace knowing that Joan was always watched after and loved.
A service will be at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Grace United Methodist Church. A reception will follow in their Welcome Center.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Music Program at Grace United Methodist Church, 401 Grace St., Wilmington, NC 28401.
Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.