Josephine “Joann” Wood


Funeral services for 95-year old Josephine Ann Wood are Thursday, May 23, 2024 at All Souls Catholic Church in Bridgeport at 10:00 am.

Burial follows at 3:00 at the cemetery in Hay Springs, NE.

The Rosary will precede the funeral at 9:15

Fond memories and condolences may be left at

Memorials will be used to support the Bridgeport Food Pantry, All Souls Altar Society, and Til Valhalla, an organization that supports veterans and their fight against PTSD and suicide.

Josephine Ann Wood (Joann, Jo, Mom, Grandma, Grandma Giggles, Grammie) passed away in Bridgeport, NE, on May 20, 2024 as God called her Home after loaning her to us for 95 years.

Joann was born the first of three children to Herbert Henry Clarke and Josephine Margaret Cushing on September 4, 1928. She was an amazing older sister to Patrick and Jeanine.

Joann was born on the Mission Ranch north of Clinton, NE,  where her parents struggled to keep a dugout with a dirt floor clean and cooked sand cherry pies and avoided rattlesnakes and poison ivy (not always successfully).

Joann spent her early life in Sheridan County. The family moved from the ranch to Clinton – quite the hopping community back when she and her siblings attended school and carried water from one of the community wells. 

Joann’s family eventually moved to “town” and she graduated from Rushville High School, where she studied the regular courses such as home economics, but also with a short stint in auto mechanics.

She was very busy in 1946 and 1947 as she graduated from high school, attended and graduated from Beauty School, buried her father, and married a very handsome young man.

Joann wed William Van Wood on August 25, 1947. While she sometimes helped Bill with his farm work, that wasn’t her favorite livelihood – especially when she was pregnant with one of her four children. She much preferred working in her home and yard, at the school, or volunteering at church.

Bill and Joann spent the second part of their adult years creating a life in Bridgeport, where they lived since 1972. Joann was a contributing member of the All Souls Catholic Church Parish family for 50 years. 

She dragged – or rather woke up and drove – three local granddaughters to Mass every Sunday morning when they would rather have slept in. She rarely missed her weekly Bible study group, even when she was babysitting her infant great-granddaughter. 

Joann helped us and numerous other youth memorize prayers as a Sunday school teacher. It’s amazing how much her students would work for a cake shaped like a lamb. 

She was an active member of the Altar Society and assisted with all events. She also took care of the plants and flowers at the church. She learned this from her mother who did the same job in their parish in Hay Springs. She also taught it to her granddaughter, who joined her in this.

Joann spent many years on the road when Bill delivered farm equipment as they visited farms in Nebraska and surrounding states. 

The pickup is where many of her grandchildren learned to whistle and to sing. JoAnn couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket but she always sang in church and loved to hear us sing whenever she could. 

We also learned to blow bubbles with our gum in that pickup. That was one of the things grandpa taught us that grandma didn’t necessarily appreciate. There were lots of those things. 

By visiting all of those farms, we learned that poisonous spiders like to hide in outhouses and wood piles; little dogs bite just like big dogs; you should always have iced tea or lemonade to offer guests; and that navigating for your husband can be challenging (and sometimes loud).

When Grammie was home, she could be found crocheting, knitting, reading, or decorating cakes. If we had a nickel for every wedding/anniversary/birthday cake she created, we could open a bakery. 

Her collection of books purchased at garage sales kept us busy on many rainy days (every type of day for some of us).

Joann also enjoyed the outside. There may or not be a few “crazy pant ladies” in our family – we attribute that to her. 

She was a member of the Bridgeport Garden club for many years. She also loved to arrange flowers. She taught this skill to many of us as well. 

Did you know that you should never use an even number of the same flower? This skill also applies to artificial flowers. If we had a nickel for every wedding bouquet or boutonniere we’ve created, we could open a floral shop.

She not only taught her own children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, she passed her knowledge on to countless other girls as a Girl Scout leader. 

Hundreds of girls know how to create a handwashing station with nylons and a gallon jug because of her. We can also build a fire and cook delicious foil-packet dinners. We also know to always have your sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, and an umbrella – we never have an umbrella, but she tried.

Joann was met in Heaven by her parents, her husband, their oldest son William Clark, and many other family members and friends.

Those of us left missing her are: Her children, daughter-in-law, Jeannie (Colorado), son, Vern and his wife Linda (Washington), oldest daughter, Jann Pankowski (Bridgeport) and the baby of the family, Julie Wood (North Platte); her brother, Patrick and his wife Arlene (Montana) and her sister, Jeanine and her husband James Quinn (Colorado); numerous nieces and nephews; ten grandchildren and their spouses; twenty great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great grandchildren.

As we reflect back on the life of our loved one, it is obvious that JoAnn was a teacher at heart. While she taught us and many others tangible skills, she also taught us how to have Faith and to share Love. 

A quick sweep of her belongings will unearth a collection of prayer books and cards. She believed in the power of prayer. Please know that as you pray for her and her family, your words and thoughtfulness are appreciated.

Bridgeport Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements.