Share with:

Our friend, Joanna Wright, died last Saturday morning, June 23, at home. She was 62.

Born October 20, 1955, in Manzanita in southern San Diego County, she spent her childhood days on the Quechan reservation at Yuma and the Campo Kumeyaay reservation, then in San Diego.

She moved to Duarte to work, then to Johnson Valley when she married Bill Wright in 2000. Their memorable wedding in Pioneertown had everyone, including the guests, dressed in Old West gear; Joanna in traditional Quechan regalia.

Joanna read about the Hobby Club at the JV Community Center, which appealed to her creative talents. She came to a Ladies Salad Luncheon to find out more, met everyone, and before long joined in on Hobby projects.

Soon the hall reflected her creativity with themed decorations for all the dinners and special events. Its festive appearance lent that extra party atmosphere to every occasion. Joanna took on organizing these events from the food to the music to the decor.

In 2011, during the massive upheaval of the hall remodeling and installation of the JVIA Well, her management experience gained at Target became an asset to the JVIA. Despite all obstacles, JVIA  re-opened fully operational; her watchful eye has kept us that way. Most people have no idea how much time and effort Joanna devoted to the Association.

She made friends far and wide and volunteered her help with fundraisers for many an organization in the Morongo Basin. Her contacts in the world of music and entertainment, accompanying Bill on his many gigs as a musician and comedy act Henry Fencepost, widened her horizons even farther. But Johnson Valley became the home of her heart.

Her 18 years in the high desert were years of community-mindedness and volunteerism. She served as vice-president, then president of the Johnson Valley Improvement Association, as president on the Homestead Valley Community Council, and as our representative on the Lucerne Valley-Johnson Valley Municipal Advisory Council. The untold story: how much time and one-on-one attention she gave to folks who needed help.

Even in failing health, she remained as informed and involved as possible.

When word got around she had not long to live, a friend handmade a beautiful inlaid box for her ashes. At Joanna’s request, her family will have a private gathering, then take her ashes out to sea.

She is survived by husband Bill, her son Richard Tellow, Tribal Chairman of the Kumeyaay Nation, his lovely wife and two children. Relatives came from all over the country to say goodbye; we had the pleasure of meeting many who came with Joanna to our Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.

On Saturday, we notified her fellow board members on the HVCC, the Scenic 247 Committee, and the LV-JV MAC, as well as the County. Here are some of the kind replies:


“A lady with a big heart and kind soul.”
–Chuck Bell


“I’m crushed! 
So sorry for this bad news. I hope Bill has someone for support in this time of extreme sorrow…
I was truly fortunate to have known Joanna even briefly!”
–Richard Selby“This is such sad news. She will surely be missed on the MAC Board.”
–Roger Peterson

“We are so sorry to hear this news. Joanna was such a strong advocate for her community, we will miss her…” 
–Molly Wiltshire

“As you said, it was no surprise. But, it is a big loss to both her family and her community. I’ll miss her. We have another reason to make “Scenic” designation happen – Joanna’s memory and her efforts to make this happen.”

–Sarah Kennington

“How sad.  –Jim Harvey

“I’m so sorry to see this. Joanna was so friendly and kind. Poor Bill.”
–Stacy Moore

“Thank you for letting me know.  Prayers for her family. She was a special lady and will be missed by many.”

–Floy Creveling

We hear that County Supervisor James Ramos’ donation this year to the Fireworks at Homestead Valley Park in Landers on Memorial weekend will be made in honor of Joanna.



Share with:

Liked it? Take a second to support Cactusthorns on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.