Joan Olmstead Cortright


Mrs. Joan Olmstead Cortright passed from this life into the arms of Jesus on Aug. 7, 2023, surrounded by loved ones at her Pagosa Springs home at the age of 91. Joan, known as Jo-an, was preceded in death by just 97 days by her loving husband of 73 years, Eugene (Gene) Cortright.

Born to Lyle and Amber Olmstead on Jan. 9, 1932, in Battle Creek, Mich., Joan grew up in central Michigan, marrying Gene on July 3, 1949. She worked at Western Electric as a file clerk to support Gene’s undergraduate and graduate education at Kalamazoo College and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Joan was selected as a contestant in Western Electric’s “Hello Charley” beauty contest. (See photo.) 

Joan was proud of her traditional role supporting her husband’s career and raising their two daughters, Cynthia Covin, of Bozeman, Mont. (deceased), and Lisa Foster, of Pagosa Springs, who acted as the Gene’s and Joan’s principal care giver since March 2019. Gene’s career moved the family to 12 different homes in the U.S. and internationally. Joan developed excellent cooking skills, principally while the family lived in Paris, France, which she used in hosting friends, family, and international visitors after she returned to the U.S.

Joan and Gene moved to Pagosa Springs in 1984, where she volunteered with the Chamber of Commerce Visitors’ Center, supported local arts programs and their church. Joan lovingly cared for Gene during his decades-long battle with dementia.

Joan is survived by her daughter, Lisa (Rob), of Pagosa Springs; granddaughters Michelle Gamino, of Orlando, Fla., and Ashley Dieleman (Jeff), of Clive, Iowa; grandsons Gregory Gamino, of Lutz, Fla., Trey Foster (Andrea), of Aurora, Colo., John Foster (Kristy), of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and great-grandchildren Lauren, Charlotte, Davis, Avery, Kade and Brooke. She is also survived by her sister, Joyce Lynch, of Charlotte, Mich., and her brother, Gordon Olmstead (Frances), of Atlanta, Ga.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sept. 9 at Pagosa Bible Church, 209 Harman Park Drive.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mercy Home Health and Hospice in Durango.