Cover photo for Joan M. Sexsmith's Obituary

Joan M. Sexsmith

d. August 9, 2020

Joan M. Sexsmith

Joan Mather Sexsmith, 85, of Erie, passed away on Sunday, August 9, 2020, at Forestview Skilled Nursing Center. She was born February 26, 1935 in Ashington, Northumberland, England to the late John "Jack" Mather and Frances Mary (McFadden) Mather.

Joan was a loving and generous person who found her calling in the nursing profession both in practice and as an associate professor. Her sense of humor as well as dedication to family, friends as well as patients and students contributed to her success and respect as a nurse and instructor for many years. She will be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, generosity and vivacious zest for life. She was a loving sister to Richard, Anna, Pauline, and Jayne; a dedicated wife to Fred; and supportive and strong mother to Malcolm and Katherine as well as grandmother to George and Charlee.

Joan took her General Nurse's training at the Royal Victoria Infirmary of Newcastle, England (1954-1957). Her sense of adventure and desire to use her training in service to her country led Joan to join the Royal British Navy as a Nurse during which time she served at the Royal Navy Hospital, Mtarfa, Malta.

Following her service in the Navy, Joan immigrated to the United States. She began her nursing career in the States as a surgical nurse, first in Passaic, NJ where she met and then married Frederick Hamilton Sexsmith in October 1964; and then continued her nursing in Erie, Pennsylvania.

While raising her two children, Malcolm and Katherine, with her husband, Fred, Joan continued her nursing education, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Villa Maria College (1983) and then her Masters of Science in Nursing from Edinboro University (1987). During her time at Villa Maria College, Joan earned membership in the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and graduated with honors as a member of Kappa Gamma Pi, the National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society. In 1988, Joan was named to the Who's Who in American Nursing. Upon achieving her degree from Villa Maria College, she took on the challenge of teaching the Nursing profession to future generations. She continued her teaching career at Edinboro University until her retirement.

During their 55 years of marriage, Joan and Fred travelled the world including trips to Japan, China, and multiple cruises to a wide array of countries. When not discovering the many wonders of the world, Joan continued to keep herself educated and entertained by reading and playing Trivial Pursuit. She used her talent at knitting to gift many she loved with beautiful creations and knitted hundreds of mittens, hats and gloves to donate to women's shelters. Joan loved singing and dancing and there have been many stories over the years including one of her jumping up on her friend Joan's kitchen bench and singing "I Feel Pretty" at the top of her lungs as well as a family duet of "Sisters" with her sister Anna, much to the amusement of friends and family.

Joan was recently preceded in death by her husband, Frederick; brother, Richard (Dick) Mather, as well as her nephew, Richard Mather and brother-in-law Russell Dunton.

Joan is survived by her son, Malcolm Sexsmith, wife Arlene (Dutchie), of Raleigh, N.C.; her daughter, Katherine Sexsmith, of Erie; and her grandchildren George and Charlee Sexsmith, of Raleigh, N.C.

She is further survived by her sisters, Anna Oswell (son Anthony and daughter Nicola Jayne), Pauline Dixon (husband David, daughter Anna Victoria and son John Paul), and Jayne Swyer (husband Terry and son Kane); sister-in-law, June (Oswell) Mather (daughter Clare); sister-in-law, Elizabeth Dunton (son Ian, and daughters Kirby and Kirsten). Along with many cousins, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Joan was a generous and loving woman who viewed her friends as family. This includes her oldest friend of 66 years whom she met in nurse's training at the RVI, Joan Docherty (son Paul and daughter Susan); her best friend of 46 years and closest thing to a sister in the United States, Dorothy Travis (daughters Ranee, Gina and Yvonne); and many, many more.

Funeral services are private to be held at the convenience of the family. Arrangements are being handled by the John R. Orlando Funeral Home, Inc., 2122 Raspberry Street, Erie PA 16502.

Memorial may be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, PO Box 863765, Orlando, FL 32886 (

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan M. Sexsmith, please visit our flower store.


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