Mountain View Online - Lasting Memories - Joan Wrenn's memorial

Joan Wrenn
Dec. 5, 1942-Aug. 17, 2023
Palo Alto, California

Joan Wrenn, 80, a long time Palo Alto resident, passed away on August 17, 2023. The youngest of four children, she grew up in Lorain, Ohio, before graduating from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. in 1965. After a year spent working for the National Institutes of Health, Joan headed west to graduate school at Stanford.

While at Stanford, Joan met fellow grad student Jim Wrenn and the two were married in 1968. After earning her Ph.D. in developmental biology she stayed at Stanford and worked as a researcher. Eventually transitioning away from biology, Joan turned her passion for education into a second career by working in the guidance department at Palo Alto High School and helping hundreds of students take the next step in their educational journey.

A renaissance woman with a myriad of interests, Joan was an avid collector of botanical prints and salt cellars and she and Jim published several articles on the subjects. Marine biology was a lifelong love as well and the Monterey Bay Aquarium was her home away from home. Joan was also an avid traveler and her passport was nearly filled with trips all over the world including an Olympic Games and Antarctica. She even spent her 80th birthday hiking the Swiss Alps.

Joan is survived by her children, Gregg, Becky and Colleen, her son-in-law Jason Sampson and her granddaughters Helena Joan and Mallory Wrenn.

3 entries Submit a remembrance
From Judy Smith
Aug. 27, 2023
We met Joan and Jim Wrenn in the mid 1970s when our children entered kindergarten at Walter Hays Elementary School in Palo Alto, CA. Our common interests included the Monterey Bay Area Aquarium, where we ran into each other on opening day there. They...
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Memorial service
A funeral mass will be held on Friday, August 25th at 10 am at St. Thomas Aquinas church in Palo Alto.
Make a donation
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Joan’s name to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Link:

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