Joann Leora Garrigus Ruecker Heinrich Thomas
Joann was born and lived her whole life in Hillsboro, Oregon. She saw the area grow from a small farming town, where her parents had a plumbing business, to the busy urban center it is today. She loved her hometown and everyone in it. Joann graduated from Hilhi in 1953, and then attended the Floral School of Design. She married Harold Ruecker in 1954, helped him start his own insurance agency and was at his side as
Harold served as mayor of Hillsboro. They were a team as they volunteered together and are remembered for their support of
local athletics. They raised three daughters in Hillsboro where Jo was a proud stay at home mother. She spent endless hours sewing for her girls, baking and hosting large family events in her home. She loved riding horses and enjoyed the years that her daughter, Kim, was involved in 4-H where Joann was an assistant leader. The two spent many weekends together, horse trailer in tow, driving to horse shows all over the region. She
was also active in the PTA at Brookwood Elementary where the girls attended and later, the Hilhi Boosters Club.
Joann was a tireless volunteer in so many areas that it is hard to list them all. She was a beloved Blue Bird and Campfire Girl
leader, and spent many summers taking carloads of girls up to Camp Adahi. Jo served on the Tuality District Camp Fire Board. She was very involved with her church, teaching
Sunday School at St. Peter's Lutheran in Blooming when her girls were young and later being a part of the Stephen Ministries
at Trinity Lutheran in Hillsboro. She actively participated in Bible study groups throughout her retirement years.
Jo was a devoted member of the women's philanthropic sorority Alpha Upsilon and part of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, since 1961. Jo remained the longest standing member who served as president twice, was named the chapter's outstanding member four different years and was the recipient of the sisterhood award nine different years. Through this sorority, Joann served as a
volunteer for the Easter Seal Society, Camp Easter Seal, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Alpha Upsilon scholarship project at the Hillsboro high schools. She was also involved for many years with the annual Hillsboro Holiday Mart. Jo loved attending the Northwest District and ESA
State Conventions with her sorority sisters.
Joann served on the Hillsboro City Council and in 1979 was named Hillsboro's Woman of the Year. She was a member of
the Tuality Community Hospital Auxiliary, Hillsboro Leadership Program and involved in the Chamber of Commerce, where she later worked for many years. Many people still talk about how she was the hometown bridge to history as the city of Hillsboro grew. You could "Ask Jo" anything and she would know how to find the answer.
The lifelong friendships Joann made in Hillsboro gave her cherished lasting relationships that knew no bounds.
Jo was widowed three times during her 84 years, but her faith in God and belief in love never waivered. In 1979 she married Jack Heinrich. In 1999 she married Malcolm Thomas.
Many have spoken of her kindness and how she always made others feel valued and important. Joann loved baking, crafts,
sewing, skits, singing – all part of her amazing gifts she shared in all areas of her life. Joann's infectious smile, sense of humor
and easy laugh is how we hope she will be remembered.
On April 7th she lost her battle with Alzheimer's disease. She is survived by two of her daughters and their families; The Allen
Family (Donna) and Stensland Family (Val). She is also survived by: The Heinrich families; The Thomas (Loepp/Yunker) families; her sister Marilyn Bush and brother Dick Garrigus.
Jo's grandchildren and great grandchildren were so blessed to have such a loving, involved and creative grandma! She will
forever be in their hearts and the hearts of her extended family.
Services will be held May 11th at Trinity Lutheran in Hillsboro at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers or other memorials, the family
suggests remembrances be made to Trinity Lutheran Building Fund, 2194 SE Minter Bridge Rd, Hillsboro, OR 97123.