Memorial Tribute to Joan Hellegaard

Posted By samantha copeland on December 15, 2004

Katharine Joan Smith Hellegaard
1941 - 2004

Joan was born in Wichita, Kansas, to Harold & Katharine Smith, on July 27, 1941.
In 1946, she moved with her parents and little brother and sister to Albany, New York. Two more sisters were born there, and Joan started helping with the "mothering" at a young age. She learned to play the recorder, the flute and the saxophone while in elementary school, and played with her school's marching band, sometimes even playing the bell lyre. Also she was occasionally invited to play with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra. With all the demands of her music and helping her parents raise the other four children, she still managed to always make the honor role.

In 1957, her family moved to Nashville where she sometimes played oboe with the Nashville Symphony while still in high school. She graduated from Donelson High School in 1959 and attended George Peabody College for Teachers for over a year. Then she married young, a marriage which lasted 10 years and produced two lovely daughters, Juliette and Jennifer.

After several moves, Joan ended up living in New Jersey working as a telephone operator and playing with the Brookdale College Community Band where she met and fell in love with a young man who was filling in for the regular conductor one evening. As he explains, he was up on the dais conducting the rehersal and he kept hearing the most beautiful oboe music floating up from the front row; he looked down and saw an equally beautiful redhead playing that oboe and decided right then that he wanted to know her better. They were married 33 years ago and have been in love ever since.

Joan and Ted also played with the State Symphony Orchestra of New Jersey and the Jersey City Symphony before moving back to Nashville to raise the two girls near Joan's family. On Christmas Eve, 1973, Joan gave birth to a third wonderful daughter, Jeanne, completing their family.

Joan continued to express her love of music by playing first oboe and English horn for the Nashville Community Concert Band and the Nashville Community Orchestra. She was a member of the International Double Reed Society. She sang with the Chancel Choir of the Donelson Heights United Methodist Church where she was an active member, participating in the United Methodist Women's Society and serving in the Altar Guild.

To Joan, love was a verb---not just a feeling; she believed strongly in doing for others and doing unto others as she would have them do unto her. Upon her retirement after 28 years of service, she began almost immediately devoting more and more of her time to the care of her aging parents. The task became very demanding and difficult at times, but she continued without complaint, determined to give them the best loving care and comfort in their last years. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer in January of 2002, she expressed regret that she might not be able to "finish the job" of her parents' care.

Joan chose to participate in an experimental cancer treatment in hopes that her participation would help in some small way to ease the suffering of someone else in the future.

On the evening of April 26, 2004, she reluctantly left this life behind to enter another, even better one. She leaves behind her husband, Harold Theodore Hellegaard; daughters Juliette, Jennifer and Jeanne; one brother, Harold James Smith Jr, three sisters Virginia Conover, Betty Smith and Sandra Jones, and one granddaughter Olivia Grace Anne Groves.

Categories: Human Interest