MADISON - Joan E. Krikelas (nee Gottfried), age 79, died on Friday, November 29, 2013 at UW Hospital after a brief illness.

Joan was born in Milwaukee on April 27, 1934 to Ben and Ida (nee Fodiman) Gottfried. She was a graduate of Washington High School, in Milwaukee, and received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1955. She also completed a year of graduate study in sociology at the University of Illinois.

Joan worked for seventeen years in the Office of International Studies and Programs at the University of Wisconsin, first as Foreign Visitor Coordinator and later as Fellowships Advisor. She retired from the University in 1995. She also served as a volunteer at various times for numerous organizations including Head Start, and the South Madison Coalition for the Elderly.

Joan was an avid reader and particularly enjoyed the works of foreign authors. She loved music and had a special passion for opera. After retirement Joan developed a deep interest in gardening and proceeded to convert her small front and back yards into glorious specimen flower gardens. Joan also loved to walk, whether it was in the University Arboretum, Olbrich Botanical Gardens or quaint, winding streets of small villages in Europe. Fortunate to be able to travel both during her working years and after retirement, she often commented that she got double pleasure from her journeys in the States and abroad: first while researching and planning a detailed itinerary and then the actual trip itself. She particularly loved her trip to China (partly interrupted by the Tiananmen Square events while in Beijing) and Japan. Joan had a special fondness for cities like Florence, Venice, Prague, Amsterdam and Oslo, but her greatest pleasure came from her three trips to Paris.

Reading, gardening and travel gave great pleasure to Joan but it was her family that provided the source of greatest joy. Whether it was hosting family gatherings during the holiday season or the more recent monthly suppers with granddaughter and great-grandson, the smile on her face reflected the unconditional love she had for her family. Joan also loved entertaining large groups at her home (for which she was the major designer) whether for friends= special occasions or as part of her (or her husband=s) professional responsibilities. Over a twenty year period she successfully planned surprise birthday parties for an unsuspecting husband (who never caught on). Praised for her baking and cooking skills, it was Joan=s caring and warmth upon which guests feasted. Joan was a wonderful person; she was loving, generous, with a kind heart who showed genuine interest in others. She will be missed!

She is survived by her husband of 56 years, James (AJim@); her son Andrew C. (Sally); daughter-in-law Ellen (Paul); granddaughter Lexi (Eric) Welsh; grandsons James J. and Andrew S.; great-grandson Mason Welsh; and by her sister Barbara A. Stein of Milwaukee. She is also survived by an uncle, Morris Fodiman (Gertrude) of Florida, nephews Dan (Sue) Stein, Larry (Edye) Stein, James (Jean) Davis and niece Ellen (Mike Huffman) Davis; her sister-in-law Vi Davis; brother-in-law Lou Krikelas as well as numerous cousins and extended family members. Joan was preceded in death by her youngest son, Paul.

A gathering of family and friends will take place at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Saturday, December 21, 2013 from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. (with a short program to begin at 3:00) to give everyone an opportunity to share memories of Joan's joyous life.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests any contributions be made to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, the University of Wisconsin Division of International Studies, or to a charity of personal choice.