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Joanne Marie McPherson


Joanne Marie McPherson, age 75, died on June 23, 2022, at her home in McLean, Virginia surrounded by family. She is survived by her husband, Peter McPherson; children, Susan McPherson Shea (Jack), Marc Bielawski, Bruce McPherson (Hanh), Michael Kircher (Donna); and seven grandchildren.

The daughter of Patrick & Catherine Paddock, she was born October 22, 1946, in Washington, D.C. Joanne attended the University of Maryland at College Park. Joanne accomplished many things in her lifetime. Peter served as MSU’s president from 1993 to 2005, and Joanne served as First Lady of Michigan State University. During that time, she founded Safe Place, the first shelter at any university to house and protect victims of domestic violence and stalking, and their families. Joanne was awarded the Honorary Alumni Award from the MSU Alumni Association. She also was known for revitalizing Homecoming at the university, helping to transform many traditional celebratory events to focus on student academic and public service achievement. While at MSU, she was known for opening the President’s residence, Cowles House, to numerous fund-raising, alumni, and faculty and student events. Joanne was also appointed by Gov. John Engler to the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission.

Visitation will take place from 6-8 PM on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Roth-Gerst Funeral Chapel, 305 Hudson, Lowell, Michigan 49331. Funeral services will be held at 2PM on Friday, July 1, 2022, at Vergennes United Methodist Church, 10411 Bailey Dr. NE, Lowell, Michigan 49331. Interment Bailey Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to MSU Safe Place, 155 Service Road, Room 113A, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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3 Responses

  1. Dear Peter and family. I am very sorry to hear of Joanne’s death. I fondly remember working with her on MSU-CATA fundraisers for Safe Place. The BUS PULL comes to mind . She was fun and engaging. I remember meeting both of you at the Washington Airport after your retirement! I will also ALWAYS working with you on the MSU-CATA bus merger.

    Your family will be in my prayers during this difficult time. Sincerely, Sandy Draggoo, CATA CEO EMERITUS

  2. Peter and family,

    I was so sorry to hear about Joanne’s passing. I’m sure she and Kay are having a hoot together up there. Instead of sending flowers, I made a donation in Joanne’s name to Safe Place.

    Morris Watts

  3. Peter, Susan & Marc my prayers are with you and your family. Mrs. M was a big part of my life when you lived in Michigan at Cowles House. She was a very caring beautiful lady. Always watching over her staff and very involved in the University. I enjoyed all of our theme events (lot of work but enjoyed the events) I will miss Mrs. M when she would come to East Lansing she always called me to let me know she was in town. I always made time to go she her even if just for 10 minutes. Mrs. M you were a great boss to me.
    I Love you Mrs. M and you will be missed.

    Love you, Corinna Garza

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Make a Contribution

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MSU Safe Place

155 Service Road, Room 113A, East Lansing, MI 48824