Joan (Van Derau) Zeek

Joan Zeek, 79, Bakersfield, Calif., died May 5, 2014, as the result of being hit by a drunk driver on the afternoon of April 23.

She was airlifted to UCLA, where she passed away from her injuries.

She was born in Altoona, the only child of Vol F. and Marguerite Van Derau.

Surviving are her husband of 55 years, Larry Zeek; two daughters: Sherry Paul and husband, Ron, and Carolyn Bragg and husband, Les; and three grandchildren: Stephanie Paul, Daniel Bragg and Nicole Bragg.

After graduating from Altoona High School, Joan began work as a secretary at William-Borland Real Estate and Insurance Agency. She was very active in her church, Broad Avenue United Methodist, where she taught Sunday school and played the piano on Sunday mornings.

In 1957, she met her future husband, Larry Zeek of Roaring Spring, at a roller skating rink. Two years later, in 1959, Larry and Joan married. They started a family in 1961 and had two daughters: Sherry and Carolyn. Joan was a stay-at-home mother for 17 years.

Larry was in the U.S. Air Force when they married, and Joan began a world journey as a military wife. During his 28-year military career, they lived many places, including Germany, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, New York and California. She enjoyed traveling to many countries, including Italy, France, England, Germany, Taiwan, Austria, Holland, Belgium and many more.

Joan re-entered the workforce at Edwards Air Force Base, where she was a secretary for the 3306th Flight Test and Evaluation Squadron and also worked at the Edwards AFB Hospital. After Larry’s Air Force retirement in 1983, they returned home to Altoona, where Joan worked for the Department of Agriculture Farmers Home Administration at the Hollidaysburg office. She was an office manager and processed farm and rural housing loans until her retirement in 1997.

In 1998, Larry and Joan relocated to Bakersfield, Calif., to be near their children and grandchildren. Joan’s proudest titles were wife, mother and grandmother. She was completely devoted to her family, never missing sporting events, honor and awards ceremonies, dance recitals and band performances of her children and later her grandchildren.

Joan possessed inner beauty, intelligence, humor and immeasurable selflessness. Her ready smile always lit up a room, and she never knew a stranger. She was a godly woman with immense class, poise and dignity. Her family is comforted knowing she is now in Heaven with her Lord Jesus Christ.

Her family feels honored to call her their wife, mother and grandmother. They cherish her memories and mourn her untimely passing but remain eternally grateful for the time they had to share in her amazing life.

A celebration of Joan’s life was held May 16, 2014, at Parkside Baptist Church, Bakersfield, Calif.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joan Zeek’s honor to Broad Avenue United Methodist Church, 850 29th St., Altoona, PA 16601.