Joan E. Prater died on November 11, 2020 at her home overlooking Kealakekua Bay in Captain Cook, Hawaii. Born in Morrisville, Vermont on November 5, 1933 to Lynwood and Eleanor Coan, she spent her early years on her family’s farm in Vermont. In 1945, her parents moved to Olalla, Washington where Joan graduated from Peninsula High School and later attended Washington State University, graduating in 1955 with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish.
In 1956, Joan married George Prater, and the couple moved to Palo Alto, California. George attended graduate school at Stanford, and Joan worked at Lockheed Missile and Space, serving as administrative secretary to the director of the Air Force space project. In 1960, they moved to Hanover, New Hampshire after George accepted a position at Dartmouth College. There, Joan painted and sold her silkscreen wall hangings and worked as a ski instructor.
In 1965, following the birth of their daughter Kristin, George accepted a faculty position at the University of Washington School of Business. The couple returned to Washington and built a home on Bainbridge Island where they lived for over 40 years. In 1967, their son Karl was born, and Joan immersed herself in her children’s activities and schools.
Joan loved reading, art, and science, and she regularly took her children to libraries, art museums, aquariums, plays, and science centers. She enthusiastically supported their activities, attending every school play and cheering from the sidelines of soccer games and cross-country and swim meets. A voracious reader, Joan participated in numerous book groups, remaining a member of her Bainbridge Island book club for over 20 years.
Joan worked for the Bainbridge Island Park District and helped to develop the water safety program for the Bainbridge Island School District. She taught swimming lessons and Water Safety Instruction classes, and she led annual snorkeling trips to Cozumel, Mexico. She coached for the Bainbridge Island Swim Club and enjoyed encouraging the young swimmers.
As her children aged, Joan, a life-long student, returned to school and attended art history and marine biology classes at the University of Washington. She took ceramics, photography and painting classes at Olympic College and earned her Masters of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Washington. A prolific painter, her work was large, bright, and bold.
Joan and George discovered scuba diving and traveled to Hawaii annually to spend time diving in warm waters. An underwater photographer, Joan captured gorgeous images of tropical fish. Joan and George loved to travel, and Joan counted her trip to Morocco as one of her travel highlights.
In 1985, during a kayaking trip to Canada, Joan and George bought property on Denman Island, B.C. There, they built a cabin and returned each summer. Joan loved the island’s artists and always timed her visits to be present for the annual gallery tour and book festival. Her island neighbors remained some of Joan’s closest friends.
In 1988, Joan and George purchased land in Captain Cook, Hawaii, built a home, and developed a small coffee farm, selling their coffee under the name Pua Kea Coffee. Joan snorkeled daily, and as a long-time volunteer for Reef Watch and Eyes of the Reef, she conducted regular reef surveys of her beloved Manini Bay.
Joan became a grandmother in 2001, and she adored her granddaughter Emily. Together, they read, painted, and walked the beaches at low tide. Again, Joan stood along the sidelines and cheered for Emily at her soccer games and cross-country meets.
After George passed away in 2007, Joan moved to live full time in Hawaii. Her appreciation of Hawaiian culture grew, and she volunteered for local environmental organizations, performed with a ukulele group, and danced hula with the Halau Hula O Maiki.
Deeply loved, Joan is greatly missed. Joan is survived by her daughter Kristin Glenn (Sequim), son-in-law Mike, granddaughter Emily, son Karl (Kona, Hawaii), his partner Charmaine Alameda, and extended family and close friends throughout the United States and Canada. Joan’s ashes will be scattered with George’s in the waters off Hawai’i Island and Denman Island, B.C. Memorials may be made to the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii or the Denman Conservancy Association.
He ‘olina leo ka ke aloha.