d. August 7, 2017
If you have never seen Joan Fedel and her sousaphone on a float going down Main Street then you’ve never been to a Fourth of July in Ouray. On Monday, Joan passed away in her home surrounded by her family.
Born Joan Sweitzer, and known as “Jo” by her side of the family, she grew up on a ranch in Eads, Colorado, as the youngest of six children. In 1944 she married Al Fedel and in 1945 moved to Ouray with her new husband and put her college degree to work as a teacher in Ouray and Ridgway. For 27 years she taught physical education and business to students in this area and touched many lives as shown by the students who came to her 90th birthday party.
Joan loved all forms of exercise and particularly enjoyed basketball where she coached a girls team for several years in Ridgway and led them to qualify for state. Her passion for helping people safely enjoy the water led her to become a water safety instructor in 1947 and since then she taught swim lessons, coached championship swim teams, and started the Polar Bears swim club. All of which continues to this day.
She received the Honorable Mention for Colorado Teacher of the Year award in 1981, the Elks Distinguished Citizenship Award in 1998, the Shining Star award from the Order of Eastern Star from 2004-2008, and the Woman of the Year award from the Woman’s Club of Ouray in 2011. And in 2014 she was recognized by the Ouray community for 70 years of commitment to the pool and the community.
She has been a member of the Order of Eastern Star, the American Red Cross, and the United Church of the San Juans.
She is preceded in death by her siblings and her husband Al Fedel. She is survived by her children Gary, Pam, and Dee; grandchildren Kelly, Nikki, Kentee, Amber, Nikole, and Kia; and her great grandchildren Cliona, Cavan, Kaitlynn, and Payton. She is also survived by brothers-in-law Norm Fedel and Dick Fedel and their families.
She will always be remembered for speaking her mind, her beautiful gardens where she loved to entertain, and her love of exercise. She will not soon be forgotten by the countless lives that she touched throughout her 95 years.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send donations to the amazing caregivers at HopeWest Hospice. 785 South 4th Street, Montrose, CO 81401.
There will be a Celebration of Life and memorial service on August 19th, at 11 am at the United Church of the San Juans in Ridgway, CO.