Joan Waag
Joan Waag

Obituary of Joan Schumacher Waag

Machias – Joan Schumacher Waag passed away peacefully at Marshall Healthcare in Machias on September 6th, 2020. Born in New York City during the depression when jobs were scarce, and raised by a working mom who secured and held a prestigious job with the Federal Reserve Bank after separating from her husband in 1933, Joan’s independent spirit and faith in the strength and competence of women were formed early. Bright and an enthusiastic learner, Joan was enrolled in an honor’s track with a small cohort of classmates in a high school of 9,000 students during World War II. Her teachers opened her eyes to many of the atrocities taking place in Europe and some of her classmates were survivors of Nazi concentration camps, helping to shape Joan’s ability to think for herself and question authority. This legacy she passed on to her future children. Pressured to skip college by her extended family, Joan attended secretarial school, supported by her mother, and landed a job at NBC’s development laboratory as a model and lab secretary. There she met the love of her life, Joseph Peter Waag, a technical director some nine years her senior, who earned four battle stars in the South Pacific as an Army Air Force Sergeant. The couple lived in Tuckahoe, NY, a small town on the outskirts of NYC, where they attended St. John’s Church and acted in local theatrical productions. After a few years they built a house in the quiet woods of Pound Ridge, a small town of writers and artists in Westchester County, and raised a family. Joan was actively involved with community activities, school field trips, and fundraisers, sometimes modeling in fashion shows. She was also a highly active member of St Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan, teaching Sunday School, helping with theatrical productions, reading lessons and serving on the altar guild. Joan used her creativity to sew, prepare wonderful, wholesome meals and nurture plants both inside and outside her home. She was also passionate about animals, raising large dogs (Irish Wolfhounds) and feeding birds and other critters. Learning, however, was her favorite past time. She took continuing education classes in marine biology and enjoyed lectures and books on physics, astronomy, nutrition, history, philosophy and World events, spending many happy hours with Joe exploring these subjects. As her eldest daughter was approaching college age, Joan returned to the workforce to help pay for tuition, ensuring that her children would have the opportunity for higher education that had been denied her. After retiring, Joan and Joe relocated to Cutler, Maine, building their dream home on Holmes Bay where they landscaped, read hundreds of books, and joined the active senior community. Joan served on the board of directors at Sunrise Opportunities, took classes through Sunrise Senior College and co-taught classes on astronomy and Ancient Egypt with Joe, and was actively involved with St. Aidan’s Episcopal Mission in Machias. There she served on the altar guild, chaired an annual pancake supper to benefit Sunrise Opportunities (serving up her famous creamed chicken) and made crafts for church fundraisers, but her most remembered fundraising endeavor was the Christmas fruitcakes she made, eventually directing a team of mixers and bakers who sold these spirit-soaked cakes to customers across the nation. Long after arthritis caused her to stop baking, people would still ask if they could buy one of her fruitcakes. Joan’s curiosity and love for the natural and ancient world, her wry sense of humor, and warm personality endeared her to many. Joan was predeceased by her husband after 66 years of happy marriage and is survived by four children: Erica Marine, Christine Laurel, Robert Brandt, and Anneke Waag; and six grandchildren: Samantha, Colleen, Trevor, Christopher, Andy and Carolyn. The family is extremely grateful for the wonderful care provided Joan by the loving staff at Marshall Healthcare during the last months of her life. A private memorial service is planned at the family home in Cutler this fall.
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