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Born: Nov 16, 1926

Date of Passing: Apr 21, 2023

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1926 - 2023

On April 21, 2023 a long and wonderful life ended with the passing of Joan McConnell Yarish (nee Hemphill).
Born of Scots-Irish heritage to John Hemphill (a Presbyterian Minister) and Myrtle McConnell (a School Teacher), Joan came into the world on November 16, 1926 in the town of Strathroy Ontario. Her sister and lifelong companion Sheila was born two years later in 1928. Unfortunately, this loving family faced unimaginable tragedy in 1930 when John died quite suddenly at the age of 49. Following this devastating loss, Joan moved with her mother and sister to Hamiota, Manitoba where Myrtle raised Joan and Sheila with the help of her father William McConnell and the extended family.
Joan did well at school and did not find school work to be too challenging. So much so that she earned a scholarship in Grade 12 which enabled her to attend United College (now the University of Winnipeg). Her high school years coincided with the Second World War, and after her high school graduation in 1944 she moved to Winnipeg for three years at College.
Winnipeg was an adjustment for Joan, but she had the support of some aunts and uncles living in the city. For the first year of her university life she lived in residence at the College in a single room. Asked years later if this was a lonely experience for her, Joan replied that it was not, because “I enjoy my own company”.
Following her graduation with a Bachelor of Arts in 1947 Joan took temporary permit teaching jobs in Rossburn and Regina before enrolling in 1949 at the University of Manitoba for a Teacher Diploma. She graduated from that program in the Spring of 1950, at the height of the Red River flood. Joan’s next teaching position began in the Fall of 1950 in the small southwestern Manitoba town of Melita, where several important relationships began for her. Not only did she meet her best (and lifelong) friend Dorothy Partridge, she also met the love of her life, a handsome young man teaching in a nearby town by the name of Nick Yarish.
Joan and Nick met at a teacher’s conference in Killarney, Manitoba in the Fall of 1951, and they were married in August 1952 at the United College Chapel in Winnipeg. So began a 60-year love affair which inspired their children and grandchildren. They were very good life partners, enjoying decades of special activities together including travelling, gardening, ballroom dancing and hosting and attending many memorable family gatherings. Holidays and special events were big occasions, especially once the grandkids started appearing. Joan later attributed their successful marriage to two important factors: having similar interests and being able to communicate well with each other.
When the kids were young Joan focused on the home, but also did some substitute teaching along the way. In her 40s and 50s she developed an interest in finance and eventually worked at U & R Tax Services before offering tax services privately for many years. Joan enjoyed that work, but as a lifelong learner her true passion was knowledge. A voracious reader of both fiction and non-fiction, Joan always had multiple books on the go, which never took her long to finish. She also enjoyed puzzles and in later years and usually had one laid out on her dining room table.
After moving around the countryside for two decades the Yarish family moved to Winnipeg in 1972, settling in Westwood, where the kids completed high school and went on to University. In 2011 Joan and Nick moved to the Westhaven. After a long illness, Nick finally succumbed to cancer in 2012, at which point Joan again enjoyed her own company for another five years at the Westhaven before her health took a turn at the age of 90 with a fall and broken leg in 2016. Her final years were spent at West Park Manor Personal Care Home, where she made a strong and fond impression on the staff as a formidable and lovable woman.
Joan survived cancer twice, once in the 1970s and again in the 2000s. In each case she faced the challenge with her usual blend of pragmatism and wisdom. Joan also suffered from dementia, which progressed significantly over the last six years of her life. Although dementia was a very difficult disease for Joan and her family to deal with, we were lucky to continue to see glimpses of her unique personality and determination throughout those years.
Joan Yarish was a remarkable woman, deeply loved by her family. She was often quite funny, but rarely on purpose. Her practical nature and calm demeanour allowed her to weather many challenging storms in life with grace and wisdom. She was rarely angry, and almost always at ease. She was extremely intelligent and capable, but she was never ostentatious or arrogant about her intelligence. She loved her family and welcomed each grandchild as they arrived with stoic pride. She carried herself with a casual charm, and she was adored by her kids and grandkids.
We will never stop missing her.
Predeceased by her beloved husband Nick, Joan is survived by a large and loving family, including her children: Allan (Cindy Galvin), Bev Davies (Tom Malone), Judie and Rick (Jackie Carey); her 15 grandchildren: Keane, Cedric and Raphael; Melissa, Jordan and Connor; Kim, Taylor, Harrison, Brooklyn, Jesse and Adina; and Emma, Adam and Grace; as well as their spouses and her four great-grandchildren: Sydney, Josie, Easton and Landon. Joan is also survived by her dear sister Sheila Norman, her in-laws Elsie Yarish, Roxy Melnyk, Walter Yarish (Diane), and Sylvia Yarish, and by her many nieces and nephews.
A private celebration of Joan’s life will be held this summer.
The Yarish family would like to thank the staff of West Park Manor for their dedicated, devoted and loving care to mom for the last six years.
In lieu of flowers, donations to CancerCare Manitoba or West Park Manor would be welcomed. Cheques can be mailed to: West Park Manor, 3199 Grant Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3R 1X2

To live in the hearts of those you love is to never die.
We will love you forever mom.

For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home

Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 29, 2023

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • Yarish family: So sorry to hear about your loss. Joan was definitely a strong and loving person and I have many happy memories over the years; in her travels and also as a hostess. Condolences. - Posted by: Alice Burgess (Niece) on: May 09, 2023

  • Rick and Judy Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of your mum My memories of both parents were always very happy ones in the 1970’s they always were very welcoming towards all of us kids of Columbus crescent running rampant through their home loudly playing games and music She had alife well lived and was much loved Chris GILLEN Ottawa - Posted by: Chris Gillen (Neighbor ) on: May 01, 2023

  • Judie and the Yarish family We are sorry to about the passing of you mother, grandmother and great grandmother. We know that she was an amazing lady from the kind words that we heard about her from her loving family. Treasure the many memories you share as a family. - Posted by: Tim and Rhonda Cameron (friend to Judie) on: Apr 30, 2023

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

4000 Portage Ave. (Map)
Ph: 2048859715 | Visit Website

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