We are sorry to share that our friend and fellow board member Joani Gudeman died Friday, July 25, 2014 at age 50. There will be a memorial service for Joani at Chicago Sinai Congregation, 15 W Delaware Place, Chicago on Friday, August 15 at 10 a.m. All are invited.
Joani told her story as the one of the patient introducers at MBCN’s 2013 conference in Houston. “I’m Joani,” she said. “I’m a wife, mother of two teenage boys, a dog lover, mystery reader, a vegetarian, trained listener, board member of MBCN and a person with metastatic breast cancer.”
In those few sentences, Joani set out her priorities: family first and cancer last. It is also telling that, with typical modesty, Joani referred to herself as a trained listener. Until recently, Joani was a practicing psychotherapist.
Originally from the Northeast, Joani came to the Midwest to attend Lawrence University in Wisconsin. From there, she went on to Chicago to attend the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Professional Psychology.
Although her official capacity with MBCN was Chair of Outreach and Volunteers, she also served in an unofficial capacity as a diplomat, consensus builder and in-house counselor. She patiently assessed and addressed the issue at hand. If the solution meant extra work for her—such as painstakingly reviewing and revising a lengthy and technical patient publication, she neither complained nor sought the accolades she deserved. She just did it.
“Our work together has helped me in so many ways,” Joani told us a few weeks ago. “Not only have I learned so much from each of your incredible talents and skills, I have been touched by your passion, love and commitment. Working with you all gave me purpose, provided needed distraction and pushed me to expand myself in new ways.”
Joani touched us all in so many ways. In one of my last email exchanges with her, I told Joani I was thinking of her as I wrestled with some outreach tasks she previously handled. As I dealt with one particularly challenging call, I had to contain my impatience. I told Joani I needed a WWJD bracelet: What Would Joani Do?
That is a question we will be asking ourselves often in the weeks and months to come. Our heartfelt condolences to David, Jacob and Samuel and all of Joani’s family and friends.
Interment will be private. A public service celebrating Joani’s life will be held shortly. We will share the information when we receive it.