Joanne Janet Hannum Eagle slipped this mortal coil peacefully in the early hours of May 4th, 2020, in Cupertino, California, after an unexpected and short decline, during which she had been surrounded by her lifelong companion, husband of 69 years, Alan; her son, Alan Jr.; daughter and son-in-law Kaaren and Tom Sipes, and grandchildren. Daughter, Deanne, could not be there because of coronavirus travel restrictions. Joanne was 89 years old.
Joanne was born on February 4th, 1931, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, to Fred and Avanelle Hannum, the third of four children. Throughout her life, she was unfailingly cheerful, fiercely intelligent, unerringly dedicated to pursuits she deemed worthy— from music, to belly dancing, to bridge—a world-class world traveler, natively kind and pragmatically unflappable, always.
When she was 15 years old, the family moved from Pennsylvania to California, where, to Joanne, the world opened-up. She went to Fairfax High School, in West Hollywood, then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was a music major, singing in the Roger Wagner Chorale and living in the Delta Zeta sorority house, where she was a member, while working 20 hours a week at the UCLA Athletic Department. At age 17, at her brother’s wedding, she met his college buddy, Alan Eagle, who, living in LA, would take her out from time-to-time, got her a summer job at Hughes Aircraft, where he worked, and escorted her to various UCLA activities and events. When she was 20, they married, in a professor’s rented mansion in Bel Air, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, which was to be Joanne’s beloved home base, first in Portola Valley, then Woodside Hills, then Orinda, then Los Altos Hills and then Cupertino, for the rest of her life.
As a young mother, Joanne moved to Milan, Italy, where Alan’s job took him, with their baby. Her life opened-up yet again. Already adept at languages from her operatic training, Joanne picked up Italian and, later when they moved to Zurich, German, with the ease of a musician’s ear and a traveler’s soul—although she had never before left the United States. After nearly four years, the family—now numbering four—returned to the States. Joanne busied herself in child-raising, which included regular Tahoe ski trips and Monterey visits, sailing on the San Francisco Bay, acting and singing in community theater productions, and with the West Bay Opera, in Palo Alto, where she was both a performer and a decades-long member of the Guild, helping to raise funds for the Company and the Henry and Maria Holt Memorial Scholarship for young opera singers.
Three weeks after having her third child, Joanne moved to split-level ranch-style house in Los Altos Hills, subsequent site of countless impromptu pool gatherings, family dinners and legendary parties. When her youngest child started kindergarten Joanne returned to college, picking up a Master’s Degree in Music and teaching certificate from Notre Dame de Namur University, in Belmont. She then became a teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, substituting in music and languages, for decades.
When Alan’s work took him to Asia, Joanne and Alan moved into a high-rise apartment in Singapore, which became both a jumping-off point for exploring Asia and India and guest quarters for many visitors. And when Alan retired, they became near-professional-caliber travelers, with carefully plotted annual journeys all over Europe, as well as to the Middle East, Africa and Hawaii, where they regularly attended the Lahaina Hallowe’en parade—in costume. They also became grandparents. Joanne was a fervently supportive and interested grandmother, attending school events, birthdays, graduations and every occasion in-between with unwavering devotion and delight.
In 2010, Joanne and Alan moved to The Forum, in Cupertino, where she quickly became an active and popular member of the community, while keeping up her travel. Her last intricate trip was a Swiss-train triumph in 2017, performed with stop-watch precision, despite the fact that she was no longer a fast-walker.
Joanne is survived by husband, Alan Rich Eagle; son Alan Rich Eagle, Jr., of Los Altos Hills, daughter and son-in-law, Kaaren Eagle Sipes and Thomas Sipes, Jr., of San Mateo,; daughter, Deanne Eagle, of New York, NY and grandchildren William and Andersen Eagle and Galen, Genevieve and Larkin Sipes.
Whenever you walked into a room, there was never anyone happier to see you than she was. She will be sorely missed.