Joan Harlan

Loving mother, champion of education

Joan Maria Harlan, a resident of Claremont for nearly 50 years, died on September 18, 2015 at her home in Mt. San Antonio Gardens after losing her battle with dementia. She was 81.

She was born in Gloversville, New York. She lived there until her early 20s when her parents, seeking warmer weather, headed west to southern California, settling in South Gate. Joan wanted an education so she enrolled at the University of La Verne, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree. She also attended California Baptist University in Riverside for a couple of years.

Once she graduated, she got a job as an elementary school teacher in Rosemead. When she was invited to attend church with a co-worker, she ended up meeting her future husband Lee Harlan. The couple moved to Claremont in 1968 after Mr. Harlan got a job as director of alumni relations at Pomona College.

Once they moved to Claremont, they became members of Claremont Presbyterian Church where Mrs. Harlan got a job as director of children’s ministries. She was instrumental in founding the Claremont Presbyterian Children’s Center, which started as a day care and became a preschool.

Joan was a very busy woman. She was involved in PEO International, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women’s education, eventually becoming president of the local chapter. She was also very active in women’s groups at the church, along with the Parent Teacher Association at Mountain View Elementary School. 

She didn’t slow down much after retiring from the church. Mrs. Harlan took on a volunteer social work position at Pilgrim Place. She ran a program for residents with Alzheimer’s disease, organizing activities to keep them engaged and their minds challenged.

Mr. and Mrs. Harlan loved to travel, and would frequently head back east to upstate New York, where Joan still had a lot of family. They also journeyed around the world, traveling through Russia, Greece, Africa, Asia and more.

Joan was predeceased by her husband Lee, who died in 2012. She is survived by her younger sister Genie, who watched over her and was by her side as the end was near, and by her younger brother Jack of Syracuse, New York. She also leaves her two sons, Mike Harlan of Menifee and Jeff Harlan of Canyon Lake, as well as grandchildren Kurtis, Heather, Connor, Sean, Tyler and Tegan.

 In lieu of flowers, Joan wanted people to make donations to the Mt. San Antonio Gardens Homeship Fund, the Claremont Chapter of PEO International or Claremont Presbyterian Church.



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