Joan Olson French

Joan Olsen French of Sheboygan and Madison, Wisconsin, and Naples, Florida, passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 31.

Joan was the daughter of Rosa Bodden Boyd of Grand Cayman, West Indies, and Edward F. Boyd, who was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and raised in Jamaica, British West Indies. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 16, 1934,

Joan was educated in schools in Jamaica, Central America, and the United States. She earned an Associate Degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1956 and later continued her education at Lakeland College in Sheboygan.

After graduating from high school in Miami, Joan joined her parents in Tripoli, Libya. There she met Lt. Arthur J. Olsen, of Superior, Wisconsin, who was stationed at Wheelus Air Base while serving in the United States Air Force. They were married in Tripoli on March 9, 1953. They returned to the U.S. and both attended the University of Wisconsin, where Art received his law degree in 1956. They then moved to Sheboygan, where Art started a law firm and served three terms as District Attorney and, later, as Family Court Commissioner of Sheboygan County.

Joan was active in and volunteered with many community organizations in Sheboygan, including the Mead Public Library Foundation, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra, Sheboygan Service Club, Lawyers' Wives of Sheboygan County, Town and Country Garden Club, and Sheboygan County Landmarks, Ltd.

They raised three loving children and made many wonderful, close, lifelong friends. Art died of ALS in 1993. On March 29, 1997, Joan married James L. French of Sheboygan. Jim was the founder and CEO of the J.L. French Corporation. His wife, Mary Lou, had passed away in 1995. As the years passed, Joan and Jim spent more time in Naples, Florida, where they were patrons of the Naples Botanical Gardens, the Naples Museum of Art, the Naples Philharmonic, and the Naples Community Hospital. Jim died in January 2018.

Joan is survived by her daughter Janine Werra, Janine's husband Fredrick, and their children Jennifer, James, and Jonathan Werra, all of Mesa, AZ; and by her sons Arthur John Olsen III and Jefren Olsen, both of Madison, Wisconsin, and by Jefren's partner Kathy Rasmussen. She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister Sharon Boyd, and a grandson, Jason Werra.

There will be a private interment at Wildwood Cemetery in Sheboygan. The family will hold a memorial and celebration of her life at Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan on Friday, June 8, from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. Gifts in her memory may be made to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, WI, or the Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, WI.

Cress Funeral Home
3325 East Washington Ave
Madison, WI

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