Cover photo for Joan Marie Clough's Obituary
Joan Marie Clough Profile Photo
1934 Joan 2023

Joan Marie Clough

August 9, 1934 — August 18, 2023

Joan Marie Dills was born August 9, 1934 in Yakima, Washington to Margaret Ann (Ditter) and William Dills, joining an older sister, Ann. Joan’s mother was widowed early in the marriage, leaving her to raise her two young girls. Margaret then met and married Barne Ove and the family moved to Bainbridge Island in 1939. A third sister, Lynn, joined the little family. Joan attended school on Bainbridge and graduated from Bainbridge High School. She continued her studies and received an MA from the University of Washington.

Joan married Neil Clough in 1957. They were influential in the lives of their nieces and nephews as well as many children in their neighborhood. Joan was devoted to the needs and development of children, and she was a leader in early childhood education at the Bainbridge Cooperative Nursery School. Many of Joan’s students fondly remember their time under her tutelage.

After Joan and Neil were divorced in 1978, she left Bainbridge and moved to Seattle, where she pursued a new vocation, working as a hospital chaplain. Joan was soon drawn to ministry with people at the edges of society, first as Director of St. Martin De Porres Shelter and later as Director of Sacred Heart Shelter for families. In Joan’s 12 years at St. Martin de Porres she transformed the shelter into a home for countless homeless men over 50, attending to the needs and dignity of the whole person with compassion, direction, and beauty. Her hand-made bouquets of fresh flowers placed throughout the facility would uplift a tired and weary heart.

Joan drew many people into this ministry of presence, including the deeply committed staff who she mentored, the generous volunteers and supporters who she welcomed, and many church communities who she inspired to open their doors to homeless people in need. Her leadership was built on hard work, zeal for the mission, and a warm presence, and she collaborated with colleagues to expand services, create permanent housing, and empower homeless people to advocate for themselves locally and nationally. For so many in this work, Joan was a companion, and most of all, a friend with whom we shared struggles, stories, prayers, and much laughter.

Joan eventually retired to a happy spot on Alki Point in West Seattle. She loved walking the beach, combing for whatever rock or shell caught her fancy. A woman of deep faith, her spirituality expanded as time went by to include new practices, new poetry, and art. Joan cherished her relationship with long-time companion, Gerald Greenberg, who passed away 2022. The many wonderful meals, the mutual friends, and enjoyment of Alki Beach that they shared graced their later years with joy.

As her health declined, Joan moved to the Providence Mount St. Vincent care community. She was graciously assisted there by the staff until she passed peacefully on August 18, 2023. Joan is survived by one sister, Lynn Ove Mortensen, several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews and a host of friends who loved her well.


Family and friends are invited to a memorial service and celebration of Joan’s life at 1pm on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, at Keystone United Church of Christ, 5019 Keystone Pl. North in Seattle, Washington. Website:

Cremation has taken place and a private family graveside service will be held at 10am on Thursday,

November 2, 2023, at Hillcrest Cemetery, 5450 Old Mill Rd, NE, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Arrangements entrusted to Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island, WA.

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