Joan Forest

Forest—Joan Forest, 90, on February 18, 2020, in her room at La Posada Retirement Community in Santa Cruz, Calif., peacefully, her son Karl holding her hand, and her grandchildren and their mother at that moment on a highway in Colorado, encouraging her to complete her passing. Joan was born on January 4, 1930, in San Francisco, Calif., to a mother of Scottish and a father of German ancestry. She rebelled early against the expectations for girls, refusing to make her brothers’ beds and clean up after them and feeling differently from her peers about clothing, conforming, competing, and seeking popularity. Joining the Girl Scouts, for which she had to raise her own money, led to a lifelong love of nature.

After graduating from San Mateo High School, she majored in history and literature at Stanford University, earning a teaching certificate. She went for a year to Free University of Berlin and returned to Stanford to study for a master’s. There she met Walter Schneider, and they took the “Jesus as Teacher” class taught by Harry Rathbun, who attended Palo Alto (Calif.) Meeting. Joan soon joined the meeting and began volunteering with Friends Outside and the United Farm Workers.

In the mid-1950s, while she was teaching at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, Calif., she and Walter married in Stanford Chapel, and over the next few years had three energetic boys. Walter’s experimenting with LSD under the guidance of Timothy Leary became a factor in the end of their marriage. As a single mother she did substitute teaching, matching her work schedule with the children’s school hours.

After her two older sons left home, she moved in 1976 with her youngest to a vacation home on land near Zayante in Santa Cruz County that her parents had given her. She began volunteering with the Resource Center for Nonviolence and Hospice and served on the Ben Lomond Quaker Center Committee of American Friends Service Committee. About this time, she changed her last name to Forest, the birth name of her maternal grandmother.

In 1980, she began training at the American Academy of Family Studies to become a marriage and family therapist. After spending two summers at the Jung Institute in Switzerland, where she learned sand play therapy (a feature of her work), she took an office in Redwood Therapy Center in Felton, Calif., telling her clients that she would be traveling for a month each year to get to know and better appreciate the world’s people. She was clerk of Santa Cruz (Calif.) Meeting from 1986 to 1988 and a member of a group of wise older women called Crones, whose annual meeting she attended for 25 years.

In 2001, she moved to Oak Creek, Ariz., an hour from the nearest Friends meeting in Flagstaff, and organized Verde Valley Worship Group. An original investor in Friends House in Santa Rosa, in 2013 she moved there, but after six years she missed her family in Santa Cruz so much that she returned there to live at La Posada.

By the end of her life, she had visited 55 countries; experienced four total solar eclipses; and lived through an earthquake, tsunami, typhoon, and wildfire. She described her spiritual unfolding as lifelong, and in her last years wrote her life story, Journey of Discovery. Making few friends at La Posada, she wanted to return to Friends House, but contracted cancer in late 2019, and decided not to treat it with invasive therapies.

Joan is survived by three children; a daughter-in-law; and two grandchildren.

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