Joanne Dayan

Obituary of Joanne M Dayan

Joanne “Jody” Dayan passed away peacefully on May 25, 2024, in Blountstown, Florida after a long battle with Dementia. Until her last breath, she maintained her kindness, grace, compassion, love of the Lord, love of her family and friends and was thankful for a long life filled with wonderful and varied experiences. Jody was born on April 10, 1936, in Juneau, Alaska to Edwin and Ada Sweum. She joined her sister June and several years later her little sister and best friend Patti arrived. The family settled in Anchorage, Alaska where they all owned and operated a local grocery and fresh deli for many years. Jody graduated from Anchorage High School, where she found her first true love ~ Roller Skating. She began competing at the local skating rink and even skated a 53-mile highway as noted in the local paper. She met her soulmate John “Johnny” Dayan (Stationed at Elmendorf Airforce Base) during roller skating competitions in Anchorage. At the time, they had separate life partners, but soon became not only skating partners but partners for life. They married in 1956 at the Anchorage United Methodist Church and went on to have four children in five years while living in Alaska. In 1962, they moved to John’s home state of Ohio. They became actively involved in bowling and continued roller skating. Their youngest child arrived in 1970 in Ohio. While raising five children, they were continuously involved in coaching ball teams, leading scout troops, school activities as well as hosting neighbor kids constantly. In 1977 they moved to Florida for new opportunities as well as to be close to her baby sister and family. There became her passion for Florida Gator Football. She was a regular at University of Florida football games, basketball games and gymnastic meets. While in Gainesville, Jody worked at Shands Teaching Hospital where she was responsible for collecting money from patients to have a tv in their room. She would come home daily talking about a child or lonely individual with no money and she simply paid the fees herself. Throughout her life, Jody enjoyed so many special times with her children and then later as the grandchildren came. It was very hard for her that several of the kids lived in other states and she was not able to see them more. When her husband and two children began careers with the Florida Department of Corrections in Raiford, she soon joined the Department as well. She was employed in the mailroom at Union Correctional Institution, where she got a crash course in how to manage inmates. When she called the first inmate “Sir,” her fellow workers quickly let her know they were “inmate,” and it was a joke throughout her career. She retired from Corrections after 20 years, mostly in Medical Records. During her time in corrections, she was involved in everything from Employees Club, Fund Raisers, Pistol Matches, and met so many lifelong friends. Her compassion for people shone constantly and she was well known throughout the State Prison System as an Angel. She was an active member and office holder in the Florida Peace Officers Association, Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency and The Florida Police Olympics where she was also a competitor and multiple medal winner. While living in Raiford, the family spent most weekends making last minute road trips, camping with close friends, and enjoying the Corrections family. She lost her husband John in 1986. Jody later joined the Episcopal Church in Starke, Florida where her prison warden Dennis O’neill was also her Priest. She participated as a Daughter of The King, attended Cursillo and later sponsored the attendance of many friends. After retirement, Jody relocated to Bristol, Florida to be close to her daughters. It took her no time to find a Church home at the local Methodist Church, a Church family, and then on to meeting folks all over Bristol and Blountstown. She was a frequent visitor to the post office, courthouse, beauty shop, always delivering cookies, milk and other treats. She joined the Purple Hat Society as well as the Calhoun County Senior Citizens Center where she spent most weekdays with friends, chatting, playing cards and enjoying meals. She loved to travel; frequently taking cruises, spring break beach trips, trips to Las Vegas and Biloxi. She rarely admitted it in public, but Jody loved to play a Penny Slot Machine. Jody battled and survived breast cancer two times in her later years. Upon her first surgery and multiple rounds of chemo and radiation in 2004, she became a bold advocate for women going through the same disease. She would make baskets, buy scarves, books or just sit quietly with a lone person having a treatment. She never stopped reminding folks how she was cured and they would be too! Jody maintained a deep relationship with her Lord Jesus Christ throughout her life and raised her children in the Methodist faith. She was quick to stop and spread The Word or have a quiet prayer with a stranger. Her family always called her “Our Prayer Warrior.” Even when we were not praying for ourselves, we knew she was praying for us. Due to health issues, Jody moved into a long-term care facility in Blountstown just months before the beginning of the pandemic. She brightened the hallways and doors of every resident on a daily basis. She touched those that had no one and prayed over them constantly. The Covid Pandemic became the beginning of her demise. The doors were locked, and Jody and others only saw the eyes of employees infrequently, and family through a window if they were fortunate enough to have visitors. With her family, a Facebook group advocating for caregivers, Abby Walton of WCTV News, and even The Wall Street Journal, Jody became one of the notable faces of the “hostages by the government and healthcare system!” She allowed the use of her face, her voice and her story, and after more than 180 days of forced lockdown, Florida slowly opened the doors to family again. Later in the year, she was featured with many others in a book called “Saving Them To Death. She was diagnosed with dementia in the last few years and was devastated to slowly lose her memories, her ability to walk and eventually her words. However, there was not a day that she did not smile at least once! Although lengthy, there are not enough words to describe a life so full of Blessings, love, joy happiness and even sorrow. Jody is now resting in the arms of Jesus, reunited with her Johnny, her two oldest sons that unbeknownst to her passed away during the pandemic and so many family and friends. Jody is survived by her sister, Patricia Burkett (Lester) Gainesville, FL; her son, Donald Alan Dayan (Patricia) of Medford Oregon; daughters Mary Ellen Dayan Varnum, Bristol, FL and Jennifer Bradford (Charles) of Colquitt, GA.; Shawn Dayan, daughter- in-law Tulsa, Ok.; her Grandchildren Belinda Ray Varnum, Randy Varnum, Dale Varnum, Jessica Dayan, Kaycee Durden (Lance), Brandon Duliakas, Roy Dayan (Stayce), Dakota Dayan, Tyler Dayan, Charles Ray Bradford (Betsy), Justin Bradford (Hannah), Matthew Dayan, Conner Dayan and John “Caden” Bradford. Great grandchildren, Dillon Varnum (Allie), Darren Varnum, Toby Varnum, Samantha Sheffield, London Sky, Richard John Durden, August Cruze Bradford and Baby Bradford to be in November 2024, as well as many special Great-Great Grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Lifetime family friend and caregiver, David Lehr. Jody was preceded in death by Edwin and Ada Sweum, parents, George “Poppie” Pratt, stepfather, June Ogletree, sister, John Horton Dayan, Sr, husband, John Horton Dayan, Jr. son, Michael Edwin Dayan, son, Herbert Ray Varnum, son- in-law, Ricky Bennett and Baby Bradley Burkett, nephews. “Your Life was a Blessing, your Memory a Treasure. You are Loved beyond words and Missed beyond Measure. A Memorial Service will be held for Jody at 1:00 PM EDT, Saturday, June 8, 2024, at the Bristol Methodist Church, officiated by Pastor(s) John Jackson and Darrell Johnson. Jody will be interred on a later date at Sapp Cemetery in Raiford, Florida with her husband. Local arrangements are being handled by Adams Funeral Home in Blountstown, Florida.
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Memorial Service

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Saturday, June 8, 2024
Bristol Methodist Church
Hwy 20
Bristol, Florida, United States
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