Dr. Joanne Anderson Ramberg RN PHD 1926 - 2012
Joanne Anderson Ramberg was born in Chicago on March 1, 1926, to Martin Anderson and Gudrun Lokvam Anderson, and died on October 1, 2012, after a prolonged illness. She was surrounded by her family from whom she derived a great sense of caring and involvement in life. Dr. Ramberg worked with the noted Kansas psychiatrist Karl Menninger to craft the state’s first licensed mental health care program. Ramberg was on the staff at Washburn University, where she was at one time head of the mental health program in the Department of Nursing and, up to 2010, Program Coordinator for the Division of Continuing Education. In addition, she enjoyed lecturing on ornithology at WU, drawing from her lifelong experience in studying birds, including a stint as President of the Topeka Audubon Society. She maintained a profound satisfaction in achieving a long and happy life, getting enjoyment from her work and from the accomplishments of her six children, her sister Dorothy Anderson-Metzel of Evanston, Illinois, and from the congregation of grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In 1943, Joanne responded to the poster of Uncle Sam, who pointed at her and declared: “I Want YOU” for the Army Cadet Nursing Corps. She interrupted a promising academic course at Northwestern University to become a nurse in Minneapolis. There she met handsome Navy pilot Dave Ramberg who was studying journalism at the University of Minnesota. They married and soon began a family. After a few years in Minneapolis and Owatonna, MN, the family moved south to Hannibal, MO, where the last two of the six children were born. It was in Hannibal that the family grew in experience, friendship, creativity and appreciation of nature. After a short stint in Visalia, CA the family moved to Topeka, KS where Joanne lived for 45 of the last 50 years of her life. She moved to Lawrence at the urging of her children who reside there.
Joanne was preceded in death by her ex-husband David F. Ramberg, and her first-born son David James (Jim) Ramberg, of Topeka, an OutdoorSports columnist for the Capital-Journal. She maintained a close relationship with James Rawlings of Panama City, FL. Her other children and their spouses are Linda and Ron Joler, Steven Ramberg and Margaret Rose, Karl Ramberg, Laura Ramberg and Ed Scheurich, (all of Lawrence, Kansas), and Erik Ramberg and Karen Byrum of Batavia, IL.
Joanne was a tireless homemaker and nursing professional at each of the towns she called home. At each stop she would make progress on the college degree that she gave up for the war effort, finally getting a B.A. at Washburn University about the same time that her kids were going to college at KU. Not content with this, she persevered in a Masters program at KU and finally obtained a PhD from there at age 59 in Human Development and Family Life. She proudly wore the mantle of “Doctor Jo,” and had a long and successful career in Topeka in both mental health and nursing education. She was a consultant for group homes, and was instrumental in the mental health and nursing education programs at Washburn University.
Throughout her 86 years, she derived great enjoyment from watching and studying birds. During her 40 years in rural Topeka, she would feed the local birds as well as the squirrels, raccoons, opossums, and deer that inevitably found an easy meal in her backyard. Her caring spirit and boundless energy found her the focus of large family holiday gatherings for decades. She cared for those in need, and for the last five years of her son Jim’s life, she was a constant comfort. Her stay at Pioneer Ridge and its Topeka affiliate Lexington Park was characterized by many friends, a cozy space full of bird books and her bird carvings as well as various art pieces by her children.
During the last month of her decline, she had the opportunity to reflect on her life and reminisce about her childhood in Chicago during the depression era. Just before she took to her bed for the final days of her struggle with her illness, she confided that, “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful experience, but I’m kind of glad it’s over.” Her wishes were for immediate cremation. There will be a celebration of her life at a time in the near future, and in a place where it might be likely to hear the distant calls of the birds she loved, and with the people she loved and who knew and loved her. She would appreciate that those who care for the same things in life that she did contribute generously to the organization of their choice such as Audubon Society, or Nature Conservancy. To leave a special message for the family online, visit www. PenwellGabelTopeka.com.
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