Joanie Rea Haupt
Published: January 20, 2013
Our mother, JOANIE REA HAUPT, died Wednesday, January 9, 2013 in Little Rock, in the home she adored, with her husband Jim Silvia by her side. She was born on Jan. 23, 1940, in Fort Scott, Kan. to Geraldine and Joseph Rea, who happened to be away from their Little Rock home at the time. Joanie grew up on Rockwood Road under the watchful, expectant eyes of a holy trinity: her mother Geraldine, her Aunt Joan Heyburn who lived next door, and her oft visiting Aunt Virginia Panneck. Mama's younger brother, John Rea, often jokes that while the princess was fawned over, he was left to sleep on the back porch–luckily screened in. Joanie attended Holy Souls Catholic School and later Mount St. Mary's, growing into a woman of rare beauty and sharp wit. Sister Mary Margaret of St. Mary's punctuated Joanie's life with "Joanie Rea is the only one here thinking on her feet, not with her feet." A proud memory for Mama who said the comment was made during choir practice where she couldn't carry a tune in a basket, a deficiency we have confirmed to be true many times. As Joanie grew into adulthood, the allure of three mother hens wore thin and she longed for freedom, catching the first thing smoking on the runway in the guise of acceptance to Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in New Orleans. Joanie majored in Fun and was soon summoned home by her father to Little Rock where Fun was muted and available with adult supervision. She enrolled at the University of Arkansas and pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma to her delight for the rest of her life. The pull of the world drew Joanie to San Francisco in the 1960s where she reveled in the cultural movement and color of the times, living in Haight-Ashbury, socializing with rock musicians and artists, and working for the Black Panthers. With regret, Joanie terminated her association with the group, having overheard their leaders talking about blowing up the Oakland Bay Bridge. She told them she really needed that bridge to get home, so it just wasn't going to work out. In her next life chapter, Joanie enjoyed a successful career with the US Army in Germany, overseeing child development services programs in Aschaffenburg, Darmstadt, and Wuerzburg. In twenty years of service to US Army children, Joanie passed inspection by Army Generals with perfection–a source of great pride for Mama, and admittedly a head scratcher for her family, still envisioning her in go go boots and sequins. Joanie raised daughter Virginia in Germany, a cultural and lingual gift that keeps on giving today. An electrifying actress on both stage and in life, Joanie was happiest in starring roles as Elaine in "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth," and Carabosse in Ernesto Denaro's version of "Sleeping Beauty." Joanie was an avid history and poetry buff, loved Razorback football, Braveheart, I Claudius, the Whole Hog Café, The Carter Family, and tales of the War of Northern Aggression. We are comforted to know that Joanie lived to see the Republicans defeated in the 2012 election. You would really need to know her to understand what we mean.
In 1998, retirement brought Joanie back to her beloved cottage in the Hillcrest area of Little Rock. Her love of home marked the remainder of her life. TS Eliot said "We shall never cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time." This shall be Joanie's epitaph. Little Rock from cradle to grave. A life in chapters. Vicissitudes of person. A circuitous route home. Joanie is mother to two mothers with the capacity for unconditional love, giving without expectation, and undivided presence. Joanie is grandmother to four grandchildren, Briney, Sammye, Sophie, and Max. Briney was named by her grandmother who refused to call her "Sabrina." We salute our mother for the hoot she was. And we thank Mama from the bottom of our hearts for caring so well and so long for our Great Aunts Joan Heyburn and Virginia Panneck. Mama, you done good. Above all, we honor our stepfather Jim Silvia, our mother's constant companion, confidante, and caregiver over a nearly 40-year marriage, loving through all sacrifice, polishing the essence of Mama, as well as the silver–and spiriting her heroically to rest. www.ruebelfuneralhome.com. May the Circle Be Unbroken. Gigi Peters and Virginia Heyburn.