I am writing to celebrate the life of my friend, and everyone’s friend, Joan Dessureau.  These few words are not intended as a comprehensive biography, but a fond remembrance of someone well known to all in the AAPA.

It always seemed, at a convention, that Joan was the first to give welcome, and the last to send me safely on my way. Countless times, she surprised me at shows, leaving notes of encouragement and delighting me with her company.

For many years, Joan proudly served as an AAPA Trustee and unofficial photographer.  She and her camera were omnipresent at pottery events.  The photos remain as her cherished contribution…the subjects always smiling at the lady behind the camera.

Her exquisite taste and knowledge were universally recognized and eagerly sought.  She kindly informed me when I had made something especially fine, or when a piece had missed the mark.  I never failed to benefit from her observations, and always sought to live up to her standards.  It was easy to predict that an exceptional blue-hued vase would find its way into her accomplished hands.

Joan was an early and ardent supporter of contemporary potters.  In the beginning, we were sometimes regarded with apprehension in the collector community.  She was foremost with an encouraging word, eager with genuinely helpful advice, and respectful of our efforts. On one occasion, during a show, she overheard an elderly lady make an unkind remark to me about my work.  I laughed it off.  Joan, however, with motherly indignation, produced her ubiquitous cane, and extracted major contrition from the offending party.

Joan had been a career school teacher.  She remained a good teacher throughout her life, and in all her endeavors.  She educated, protected, inspired, and set a sterling example for others to follow.  As a loving parent, she was frequently accompanied by her extended family.  A proud matriarch, her children and grandchildren remain as reflections of her best nature;  unfailingly kind, helpful, and welcoming.  Her parental bearing and warmth enfolded all who knew her, not merely her relations.

Everyone admired her fearlessness, and her indomitable nature.  No distance could keep her from her friends, and the pottery that she adored.  Persons half her age would shrink from obstacles which she calmly navigated.  She got where she was going, happily, and without complaint.

As time had its way, Joan persevered, a dignified and necessary presence in the AAPA.  Knowing that she needed extra help, the group embraced her, as she embraced us.  She was our friend, and we were hers.  I will always see my beloved Joan, tirelessly waving me homeward, a mother’s smile on her face.


–Paul Katrich