CONNEAUT — Margaret “Joanne” Westerburg, age 87, died on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, at Villa-on-the-Lake in Conneaut.
She was born June 16, 1925, in Conneaut, Ohio, to Eva Marie McNeil and William Jarl Wilson. Eva, originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, and William from Chicago settled in Conneaut and had four children: William and Mary Alice (both deceased), Joanne and Joseph. Joanne lost her mother at a young age and unfortunately only a few years later, her father died. When recalling her childhood Joanne remembers stories of the summer cottages they rented out, the swims out to the lighthouse and the fire that burnt down "Wilson's Cafe", her dad's tavern in the harbor.
During the war, Joanne moved to Erie, Pa., and worked at the General Electric. Her stint as a "Rosie the Riveter" gave her memories and friendships to help get through the dark days of the war. Shortly after the war, she was set up on a blind date with a young handsome guy just back from the Pacific front in the Navy, Ronald Westerburg, originally from Kane. Their triple date took them to a famous hot dog joint in Erie. (Known for its 8 hot dogs for a $1.00 special.) This momentous occasion was marked an odd success by the fact that Joanne was so doubtful about the outlook of the date, she didn't bother taking the pin curls out of her hair! Somehow they hit it off that night, because despite the evening ending with Joanne sitting on and crushing Ron's hat, they married the following January and remained so for 59 years. The couple had five children: Debrah, Vicki, Dan, Patti Jo and Toni. Unfortunately, to the sorrow of the couple, Patti Jo died in infancy.
The couple kept many close friends throughout the years, especially "The Club". Joanne was part of a group of female friends (formed in 1948) who met one Friday a month through most of their lives. These friends saw each other through the joys of childbirth, the sadness of miscarriages, lay-offs and financial ups and downs, divorces/separations, and eventually deaths. They met, played cards, snacked and shared the stories of their lives. This group of women and their families became an extension of family life so that breakfasts at the beach, camping trips and holiday celebrations were enriched. Joanne and Ron were fun and active parents who clearly enjoyed family life. The children grew up with aunts and uncles who cared for them and had the advantage of many, many cousins to share summer reunion adventures with. Joanne and Ron each had wonderful nieces and nephews that they were very fond of. Joanne also had sisters-in-law who were important to her: Lillian Westerburg, Carol Wilson and Elma Wilson.