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Obituary for Joann Dennett

Joann Taylor Temple Dennett

Joann was born in Springfield, Illinois, the only child of Hazelmae Taylor Temple and Joseph Temple. An “Army brat,” she attended eight grade schools and five high schools. She received her Bachelor of Science in Science Engineering from Northwestern University in 1961, her Master of Science from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in 1962, and a doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1985.

Joann, a direct descendant of Henry Kelley, the founder of Springfield, donated a number of 19th Century family items to the Iles House Museum.

She served as an Information Officer for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center until 1967, when she relocated to Boulder, Colorado, a move that caused her to say “Boulder is home, I’m not moving again.”

In 1969, she married Roger D. Dennett in Boulder. While serving in various Public Information posts at NOAA and NCAR, Joann continued her lifelong interest in writing. In 1972, she founded RDD Consultants, a firm providing technical writing and support services to a variety of clients.

She was a life-long member of the Disciples of Christ, a member of Sisters in Crime, a lifetime member of the National Association of Science Writers, TESOL and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). In 1996 she was elected a Senior Member of IEEE.

In 1975, she joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, where she taught science writing in the School of Journalism and technical writing in the Department of Physics. After she received her Ph.D. in English Education from CU in 1985, she took up the post of Director of Publications for the College of Engineering before moving on to serve as a Research Associate for the Vice President of the University. During that time she also served as an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication.

After her retirement from CU, Joann developed and managed a program for nonnative English-speaking visitors to the Forecast Systems Laboratory of NOAA. Joann was honored for this work with the award of a Churchill Travelling Fellowship from the English Speaking Union. She spent four months in Australia on this Fellowship as an official visitor to a variety of tertiary institutions in Australia.

In 2000, Joann’s interest turned to fiction. Writing fiction, after a lifetime of technical and science writing, was true liberation for her. Her first mystery novel, See How They Scurry, was published in June 2008, followed in 2009 by the second in the series, See How They Shine.

In 2007, Joann was diagnosed with two cancers—mesothelioma and NSCLC/BAC. In 2010, pancreatic cancer added to the deadly mix. She very recently published a book, Navigating the Minefield of Cancer, relating how she found information on her cancers, how she tried to assess the potential usefulness of this information, and how she responded to unexpected detours along the way. She was her own best advocate in her treatment and survived cancer for six years despite her original six-months-to-live prognosis.

When asked to write a short statement of her beliefs for New Women, an organization of First Christian Church, Boulder, Joann wrote, “I believe in connections. Connections with people. Connections with the past. Connections with the future. Connections nurture me, sustain me, empower me. Our connections can reach outward from one to another to another until everyone is included. I believe we could do this. I believe we are doing this in many ways now.”

Joann nurtured many connections in her life, foremost among them the one with her husband and best friend, Roger. She is survived by him, cousins in Illinois, England, and Australia, and many friends—both human and canine.

Contributions can be made to Cairn Christian Church/Permanent Fund, or Safe Harbor Lab Rescue, 601 16th Street, #C322, Golden, CO 80401.

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