On Monday, December 14th, Joan Drouillard-Rees passed away at the age of 70. She was preceded in death by her parents Raymond and Marian, and brothers Raymond, and Greg. Joan is survived by her husband, Larry Rees, son Ben Gorny, daughter Nicole Gorny, granddaughter, Elizabeth Gorny; siblings Janet (Tom) Emberg, Amy Olson, Melissa Drouillard, and Bruce Drouillard; nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends.
Joan was born on April 1, 1950 to Raymond and Marian Drouillard in Duluth, Minnesota, their first of seven children. Joan graduated from Proctor High School in 1968 and went to Vo-Tech where she studied fashion merchandising. Joan was a beautician, worked at JC Penneyâs and got married to the late Jim Gorny in 1975. They had two children, Ben and Nicole, and were divorced in 1988. Joan had her own in-home daycare business for 20 years and had the privilege of caring for so many amazing kids over that time. Joan went back to school when she turned 40 and gained her B.S. in Sociology, minor in Criminology in 1999 at UWS. Joan met Larry Rees during this time and they married in 1999 and Joan moved to Fridley, MN where she changed careers to work in corrections until her retirement.
Joan was very artistic and loved to paint, draw, sew, and do needlework. She would sew her own clothes in high school as well as make things for her siblings. Joan would paint murals on walls in her early apartments which wasnât always appreciated by her landlords. Her mother taught all her children how to cook and bake and Joan was excellent at both. She would make the majority of meals for her own family from scratch, always making Ben his favorite German chocolate cake for his birthday and Nikkiâs favorite spritz cookies at Christmas.
Joan loved to write and kept many journals which was a gift to her family to find over the past year. Joan had an amazing green thumb and always kept beautiful gardens. She loved a good laugh, traveling with family and friends, decorating for all holidays with Halloween and Christmas being her favorite, and listening to music â especially The Beatles. She got to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert and it was a joy of a lifetime for her. Joan was an expert thrift shopper and finding a unique piece of jewelry to add to her collection was always her mission.
Joan was a loving mother, grandmother, sister, wife, and friend. She chose to open an in-home daycare business so she could be at home with her own children. Joan always said her children were the best thing she ever did and as it is her children writing this they wholeheartedly agree. That did change once her granddaughter Elizabeth was born as she quickly became the center of her life. Joan loved being a grandmother and always had different adventures planned when Lizzy came to visit. Since Lizzy was born on March 31st their birthdays were a day apart making that time of year a big deal for the whole family and cementing even more of a bond between Joan and her beloved granddaughter who was named after her.
Joan suffered a stroke in April 2019 and developed seizures shortly after. She was diagnosed with lewy body and vascular dementia this past May. She lived at Cerenity Care Center in White Bear Lake for the last six months of her life. Thank you to all the amazingly kind staff there for taking such good care of Joan. She loved the activities, being able to decorate for the holidays, and winning bingo. The last two years of Joanâs life werenât easy but she managed to keep her sense of humor through it all. Special thanks to Dr. Sue Hoisington who provided exceptional care to Joan over the years. Another special thanks to Dr. Mary Raukar and all the staff at NACC (Native American Community Clinic) where her medical and spiritual needs were met over the years. Memorial service to be held in Duluth at a future date. Any memorials or cards may be sent to the funeral home, Attn: Joan Drouillard-Rees Family.