Joan Marie Rychtarik passed away on February 17, 2021 at Avera Hospital surrounded by her family. She was 70.
Joan was a beautiful soul with a heart of gold. Her love of life and the people in it was incomparable. Always putting others before herself, Joan's lasting impact will never be lost. She loved reading, conversations with friends and family, traveling, people watching, having a good laugh, writing and receiving letters and cards (for all occasions, but especially Christmas). Her love of baking was a major passion that she loved sharing with others. You could definitely count yourself lucky if you ever tasted any of her baked treats. Her love of the Lord was undeniable. She was a member of the St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Brookings, SD. Perhaps, most of all, Joan loved her grandchildren; the chats, jokes, adventures & cuddles they shared and going to their various programs & sporting events. She was a wonderful listener, the "Neighborhood Mom", and a strong advocate for families of children with special needs. She will be greatly missed by all those lucky enough to meet her. She is one never to be forgotten.
Joan was born August 3rd, 1950, in Sioux Falls, SD to Terry & Elaine (Woodley) Connolly. She grew up in Canistota, SD with her parents and sister, living above the family grocery store that her parents owned and operated. After graduating from Canistota High School, Joan ventured to Brookings and attended South Dakota State University. There she earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology. Continuing her education, Joan achieved her Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of South Dakota. Joan was a born educator, so it was no surprise that she answered her calling and became a teacher, both in the classroom and out. She shared her knowledge and gifts in various places and various ways; teaching in Sioux City, IA, Flandreau, SD and Sioux Falls, SD, to name a few.
Perhaps Joan's most important teaching job was at the Flandreau Indian School where Joan met the love of her life, John E. Rychtarik. He was the art teacher; she was teaching reading. They were united in marriage on August 13, 1977 and moved to Pierre, SD. While living there they had 3 children; Jana, & twin boys, Jarid & Jordon.
Not too long after the twins were born, the family relocated to raise their family in Sioux Falls, SD out of medical necessity, as the twins were born prematurely and it was discovered that Jordon had cerebral palsy. Joan found herself in a situation of now having first-hand knowledge of what she so passionately studied. Having a child with a disability only strengthened her resolve, understanding, and compassion, not only on the subject of Special Education, but as a human being. As a result, Joan worked for various organizations such as Turn About and Parent to Parent, helping other parents of children with special needs and their families in their journey.
When faced with medical hardships of her own, Joan turned her focus to her family and taking care of Jordon. Obvious to all that knew her, changing her focus did not lessen or impede the continued love, support, compassion and educating she constantly bestowed on others. It only increased exponentially.
When John took a job in Brookings, SD, Joan & Jordon joined him in the move (Jana and Jarid had already left the nest). Devastatingly, not long after the move Jordon fell ill and passed away, completely turning the world upside down. Joan's unwavering strength and grace during this devastating tragedy helped guide the rest of the family through the darkness to the other side.
Joan and John's love and strength helped them persevere and make their house into a home that was welcome to all. Time may pass, but the true beacon of love and beauty that was Joan will never diminish. Her laugh, baked treats, letters and hugs will be greatly missed. If she knew you, she loved you.
Grateful for having been part of her life are her husband John Rychtarik, daughter Jana (Kevin) Maxwell of Harrisburg, SD, son Jarid (Aleksandra) Rychtarik of Brookings, SD., sister Pat (Tom) Berg of Sioux Falls, SD, grandsons; Adam & Isaac Maxwell, sister-in-law Patty (Don) Parlin, Bluffton, SC, brother-in-law Robert (Paula) Rychtarik Buffalo, NY, her nieces & nephews, and many special friends.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents Terry & Elaine Connolly; father & mother-in-law, Edmund & Della (Terwilliger) Rychtarik; sister, June Ann Connolly; son, Jordon Rychtarik; and niece, Teresa Berg.
A visitation with family present will be held Sunday, February 21, 2021 from 2:00 - 4:00pm at Miller Southside Chapel, 7400 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD. A funeral mass will be held at 10:30am on Monday, February 22, 2021 at St. Michael Catholic Church, 1600 S. Marion Road, Sioux Falls.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Rychtarik Family to be allocated to various causes and organizations important to Joan.
Masks are required and social distancing will be in effect during the gatherings.