A Friend To All
(Obituary published in the
Our wonderfully loving and creative wife, mother, sister and
grandmother and friend to all suddenly passed away Sunday,
August 29th in Camino, CA. She was born Oct 22, 1939 in
Vancouver, Canada. She married her college beau, Gael in
1963. They were blessed with three children: Karen, Cathy
(Matt) and Michael (Mindy) and six grandchildren: Michael,
Nicholas, Matthew, Lindsay, Mark and Mia. Joan also has a
sister: Lynn, niece: Ann and nephew: Graham (Vanessa). She
was a sister-in-law to Rocky (Gael’s brother) and aunt to
Rhonda, Jerry and Gina.
She liked to tell people she lived on an orchard, in a log
house, in front of a forest with her husband of 47 years.
She loved everything about it…including the large open
spaces for her grandchildren to play and for friends to get
together and the new garden that Gael had planted just for
She loved people, and was a friend to everyone. Her motto
was that there are no strangers, just friends she hasn’t met
yet. It’s as if she knew her purpose in life was to make
other people feel good – and that’s exactly what she did –
every – single – day.
Joan was an integral part of this community. She was
involved in so many clubs, boards and organizations that we
don’t have room to list them all here – but as a start…
Gold Country Board
4-H Apple Hill Growers Board
Bridge Clubs (3)
Camino Writers Association
People to People
She belonged to these groups because she truly wanted to
make a difference. And she did.
Local author, philanthropist Joan Barsotti
From The Mountain Democrat Newspaper |
By Michelle Flood | Mountain Democrat staff writer |
September 1, 2010
Children’s author and well known local philanthropist Joan
Barton Barsotti, 70, died Sunday at her family home in
The name Barsotti is one of the most recognized in El Dorado
County because of Barsotti Juice Company Inc. of Apple Hill
and the myriad good causes that Joan and husband Gael, 72,
were involved in. Two of their children, Cathy and Michael,
work in the family business and daughter Karen is a teacher
“They had a busier social life, in their 70s, than we do at
45. When I call it was always so hard to get hold of them.
It could be Monday Night Football; bridge - she belonged to
three separate clubs; CASA; Rotary - may dad belonged and
mom went along to the activities; Shakespeare Club; Snowline
Hospice; and her writing clubs,” daughter Cathy Barsotti-Dooling
“When my parents helped with their different causes they
dived into things - they didn’t just join,” she said.
“My mom was such a good person. She was so thankful and
appreciative of everything. There are not enough positive
words to describe her. What made her really special was that
she cared. She was not a negative person. She never had a
bad word to say about anybody.
“She never said “no” and she didn’t want to waste a minute.
The grandkids just loved her and she always did things with
them,” Barsotti-Dooling said.
“She had the heart of an angel and the energy of a
25-year-old,” Mountain Democrat columnist Bob Billingsley
said. “She was as pretty as a movie star and understood
clearly that love begins when you get outside yourself. She
loved her family, her friends and her community.”
“She was a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) board
member and a great fundraiser. She was willing to assume a
leadership role at any time. Joan was totally dependable and
had lots of creative ideas. She and her husband Gael were
generous contributors to numerous causes and fundraisers and
they were one of the most admired couples in the community.
She was a creative writer of children’s books and very
intelligent,” Billingsley said.
Gwen Wood, the retired executive director of CASA, was
friends with Joan for 19 years. “She was an amazing woman
and the most giving, caring person I ever met. There was no
fundraiser in this county that she and Gael weren’t involved
in - in some way. They either bought tickets or participated
in it. Joan was a wonderful person and there are so many
things I could say about her but that would just sound sappy
- and I don’t want to sound sappy because that wasn’t Joan.
“The community has lost a wonderful person and she will be
missed in many ways. At CASA she was on our Board of
Directors and she helped with all the fundraisers - whether
it be the barbecue at High Hill Ranch or helping make the
annual CASA lunches (which all contained Barsotti apple
juice). She was just a terrific woman - I can't think of any
other way to describe her,” Wood said.
Joan was a member of the Women's Fund El Dorado, a program
under the auspices of the El Dorado Community Foundation.
“It seems like for awhile every luncheon I went to I sat
next to Joan,” said foundation Executive Director Bill Roby.
“She had been part of the Women’s Fund since its inception.
She was always a delight. She was a wonderful story teller
and she always made me laugh. I will miss her. She gave so
much of her time and energy and talent to this community.”
Artist Anne Gladwill was a longtime friend and collaborated
with Joan on her last book, which has not yet been
“Joan was such a vivacious person – it’s hard to imagine
she’s gone,” Gladwill said. “I loved that lady and it was so
much fun working with her. It was a joy for me to do (the
illustrations for Joan’s book) and have her come up here and
we would just talk for hours. It’s a children’s book that we
were working on - the story of two ornery fish that got
themselves into all sorts of trouble. I finished the
illustrations and she had OK’d it - but she put it on hold
because she was re-doing her book on Okei-San (the young
girl from the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony that settled in
Placerville). She was having it reprinted because she had
sold out of copies,” Gladwill said.
In addition to her book on Okei-San, Joan Barsotti wrote a
number of children’s books. The Placerville News Company in
downtown Placerville carries them, including “Mike and Nick
and the Pumpkin Patch,” “Nana Gets a Cat,” “Christopher and
Grandma on Safari,” “The Little Green Frog and Other Poems,”
“Andrew and Nana on Safari,” and “Okei-San, the Girl from
“They are all really cute,” said Mary Meader, owner of
Placerville News Company. “I’ve known Joan for at least 25
to 30 years. We met we met when our kids were in 4-H
together. I loved working with her - I really did.”
Joan was a visiting author at elementary schools throughout
Northern California and her family said she enjoyed being a
presenter at California Kindergarten Conferences, Nevada
Reading Week Conferences, a California School Library
Conference and many clubs and organizations.
Close friends and neighbors, Bob and Diane Penn, had known
Joan since 1976. Diane had difficulty finding the right
words to describe her longtime friend.
“There is such a huge void. Joan and Gael both contributed
so much to Camino and Placerville and El Dorado County. Joan
was one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. I
don’t think words can describe Joan. She was so gracious,
and patient, and calm ... and she certainly touched so many
lives. She was almost like an angel - because she was pretty
darn perfect. She was always able to say the right thing at
the right time. This is a very profound loss for Gael, her
children, her family, her friends and her community,” Diane
According to her family Joan liked to tell people that she
lived on an orchard, in a log house in front of a forest
with her husband of 47 years. She loved everything about her
life - including the large, open spaces that gave room for
her grandchildren to play and her friends to gather. And she
especially loved the new garden that Gael had just planted
Joan loved people and they loved her back.
“My mom was a good listener. She had so much patience. She
was truly interested in people and she had a great sense of
humor. She would laugh so hard she would cry - and we used
to do things to her just to see her do that,” her daughter
In Joan’s memory the family has set up a scholarship fund
through the El Dorado Community Foundation. It is called the
Joan Barton Barsotti Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship
is for aspiring writers and journalists.
Joan is survived by her husband Gael and their three
children - Karen Ewing, 46; Cathy Barsotti-Dooling, 45; and
Michael, 42. She also leaves her son-in-law, Matt Dooling
and daughter-in-law, Mindy, and her six grandchildren -Mike,
22; Nick, 21; Lindsay, 16; Matt, 19; Mark, 6; and Mia, 4.
The family requests donations be made to the scholarship
fund through the El Dorado Community Foundation, 3097 Cedar
Ravine Road, Placerville, 530-622-5621 or CASA, 347 Main
St., Placerville, 530-622-9882.
Funeral services for Joan were held on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at
11:30 a.m., at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 3109 Sacramento
St., Placerville. A reception followed in the parish