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During a spectacular fall, on a tranquil, colorful day, our mom gained her freedom from the pain she suffered for so many years. Her Lord and Savior released her mortal bonds and escorted her to her heavenly home.
Joan peacefully passed away on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, surrounded by loving family members and caring staff at the Platte County Legacy Home in Wheatland, Wyoming, following a long battle with dementia, arthritis, and more recently cancer.
Joan Luella (Cook) Stugart was born on Friday, May 28, 1937 at the Wheatland Hospital. She was the first-born child of Donald J. and Eileen (Bowen) Cook who at the time, lived north of Chugwater, Wyoming along Chug Creek on the TY Ranch for Swan Land & Cattle Company.
As a young child, she chose to spend her time outside. She especially loved horses and was regularly found riding her favorite horse, Black Beauty, wherever the open pastures allowed. Growing up, she became her father’s constant companion, always at his side, gathering cattle or putting up hay in the meadows; doing whatever she could do to help in her way. Later in life, Joan would pass her love, respect and appreciation for animals on to her own children. Joan’s parents had a second daughter, Donna Eileen, and the family left Chugwater and moved closer to Wheatland, desiring their own land where the family would farm and ranch.
On March 6, 1953, Joan married the love of her life, Raymond Neil Stugart, whose family neighbored the Cook family on the flats south-west of town. Neil obtained a job with Mountain Bell Telephone, and together over the next 5+ years, they spent moving up, down and across Wyoming for Ma Bell.
In the mid 1950’s they moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming. There Neil worked as a Mountain Bell lineman & installer and Joan took on a position as a phone operator during the evenings. She said that her most frequent call was from her own young son calling the operators to find out when his “mommy” was coming home.
In the late 1950’s the company transferred the family to Neil and Joan’s hometown of Wheatland, where they completed their family. Joan was a devoted wife and loving mother. Everyone was welcome in the home and she treated each child who entered just like her own. Regardless of the number of children showing up, treats or meals, as well as hugs, were always available, much to everyone’s delight!
Joan’s favorite job in her life had to be that of a school bus driver. It was a natural fit based upon her love of children. Dozens of letters would proclaim their love of her as being their favorite bus driver, year after year. As these children grew into adults it was so heartwarming for Joan to have her “bus kids” come up to greet her exclaiming their fond memories of her being their driver! Even as the effects of dementia began to creep into her life, she always seemed to remember each person and where they lived on the route, sometimes adding her own stories of warm times or ornery events. Joan proudly drove a school bus for 29 years, finally having to retire only due to the adverse effects of arthritis. In her years of retirement, she shared in a love of Shar Pei dogs, antique cars, grand and great grand kids with her husband, Neil. Joan’s passion was to go shopping and could spend an entire day, with a friend or alone, wandering through every open shop with repeated stops at Simply Creative and Wheatland Country Store. As her arthritis caused more pain, she created deep friendships with wonderful people, especially Ginger and Bev who came to her aid helping at the farmhouse.
Joan was preceded in death by her father, Donald Cook on December 14, 1996; mother, Eileen Cook on April 26, 1981; grandparents, John and Ruby Cook and L.L. Roy and Luella Bowen; husband of nearly 60 years, Raymond Neil on May 9, 2013; and grandson, Nicholas Neil Stugart on June 16, 1980.
She is survived by her son, Ron (Barbara) of Wheatland; daughter, Pegge Stutzman and fiancé Jeff Carbullido of Las Vegas, Nevada; daughter, Susie (Lonnie) Wann of Yankton, South Dakota; six grandchildren, Jamie Stutzman Bennett, Brandon Stutzman, Casidy Siedschlag Potts, Michelle Stugart Merrick, Clay and Cody Teel; ten great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
A Funeral liturgy will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wheatland, Wyoming with Father Hiep Nguyen as the Celebrant. A Vigil for the Deceased will be held at 6:00 P.M. Monday, November 20, 2023 at the Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Wheatland. Interment will be in the Wheatland Cemetery.
A memorial to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wyoming, P.O. Box 273, Casper, Wyoming 82602 would be appreciated by the family.
Arrangements are under the direction of Gorman Funeral Homes – Platte Chapel of Wheatland.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com