Joann White Scifres

Joann White Scifres, 89, a Salem resident from 1965 to 1981, died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2020, at her home in Lady Lake, Florida,  

She enjoyed an active retirement, playing bridge with her husband and tennis with her girlfriends each week until this past year. Joann was tended by her husband, Gene Scifres, and her daughter, Caroline Kenfield, when she passed.

The daughter of the late Sereno White and Violet (Seibert) Covell, Joann was born on March 26, 1931, in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. She would later adopt Indiana as her home state while attending Earlham College. Joann went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in literature and business education, and a master’s degree in education administration from Indiana University. While pursuing her doctorate, Joann fell in love with Gene Scifres and they married on Friday, July 13, 1974, at the Salem United Methodist Church. Although Joann began her career as an executive secretary for Standard Oil in Indianapolis, she found her true vocation as a teacher. She began her career teaching high school business courses at Salem High School, before moving to Columbus North High School. Joann went on to teach business courses at the Columbus campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). 

At every level, Joann’s proudest achievement was inspiring the women and men she taught. At Salem High School, she founded Business Office Education (BOE), the state’s first and award-winning vocational training program that equipped students to serve as professional administrative assistants, executive secretaries,and office managers. Many of her students went on to manage banks and businesses with their high school education. 

A life-long learner, when Joann realized word processing would take the place of typing in the professional world, she took computer courses with her students at IUPUI. She loved learning as much as she loved teaching and helped her students (and daughters) fall in love with learning — at the front of a classroom, the side of a computer, and across the kitchen table.

Joann is survived by her beloved husband of 47 years, Gene Scifres; her daughters, Caroline Kenfield, of Lebanon, Tennessee, Rebecca Howe, of Ellettsville and Kathy Scifres, of Salem; and her daughter and son-in-law, Revs. Mary Scifres and B. J. Beu, of Laguna Beach, California; many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, including her namesake and youngest great-grandchild, born last March, Emma Joann Baker, a light that kept Joann going this past year.

The family will plan a memorial service later in the year at Community Church UMC of Fruitland Park. In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to remember Joann with a donation in her honor to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or your favorite charity.


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