Joan B. Rawles

Rawles—Joan B. Rawles, 86, on March 31, 2022, in the care of her son, Jody, in a memory care facility in Long Beach, Calif. Joan was born on July 14, 1935, to William Thomas Branen and Mary Helen Auchmuty in Philadelphia, Pa. An only child, she attended Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, Pa., where she was introduced to the Quaker way of life. She attended Connecticut College in New London, Conn., then transferred to Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. After graduation, she moved to Claremont, Calif., for graduate studies. She became a member of Claremont Meeting on January 19, 1964.

Joan met her first husband, Ralph “Wann” Rawles, in Claremont. They had two sons, Jody in 1963 and Drew in 1967.

Joan earned her master’s degree and teaching certificate, then taught high school English and literature. She moved to La Verne College in La Verne, Calif., where she also taught English and literature. She met her second husband, Thomas A. Davis, who taught at La Verne.

In 1975, Joan and Tom moved to the California central valley farming town of McFarland, where Tom had grown up. Joan returned to the public school system as a career counselor.

In 1985, Joan and Tom moved to Santa Cruz, Calif. Joan worked briefly at Santa Cruz High School, then for a nonprofit senior housing facility. She transferred her membership to Santa Cruz Meeting on May 5, 1986. Joan and Tom were active with Ben Lomond Quaker Center and Santa Cruz Meeting. She served on the Ministry and Oversight and Nominating Committees, and served as clerk of the Community Building Committee. Joan and Tom were Friends in Residence at Pendle Hill Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pa., in the spring of 2009.

Joan contributed to the life of Santa Cruz Meeting in many ways, especially by initiating the presentation and recording of life stories of members and attenders of the meeting, as well as teaching sacred dance. She joined the Threshold Choir in Santa Cruz as a way of “expressing kindness made audible.” These volunteer singers offer songs of comfort and love for people approaching end of life.

Joan was drawn to sacred circle dance during the 1990s. She studied with the founders of this movement at Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. Sacred circle dance was central to her spiritual journey, and it became her ministry to the Quaker world and beyond. She offered sacred circle dance workshops at monthly and yearly meeting gatherings around the country, including Pacific Yearly Meeting. She loved to offer sacred circle dance for weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations.

After Tom and Joan parted ways in 2010, Joan moved to Davis, Calif. She transferred her membership to Davis Meeting on September 13, 2015. There, Joan continued her ministry with sacred circle dance, Threshold Choir, and recording life stories of Davis Friends. She attended both Davis Meeting and the local Unitarian church. Through the Unitarian Church, she met Douglas McColm, a widower and retired University of California, Davis professor of physics. Joan and Doug held a commitment ceremony on February 29, 2020, under the care of Davis Meeting, in recognition and honor of their love and support for each other.

Joan’s interests included her pets, music, and theater. She traveled widely, including to Africa, Bali, Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Scotland, Australia, France, and Italy.

In 2021, Joan moved to Long Beach, Calif., when her health deteriorated and she could no longer live independently.

Joan is survived by her partner, Doug McColm; two children, Jody Rawles (Somaly) and Drew Rawles (Debra); and six grandchildren.

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