Joan K. Elam passed away peacefully at her home in Coronado California on Dec. 25, 2020.
Joan is survived by her loving husband of 60 years, Chris Elam; four children Debora, Dennis, Chris Jr. and Tamara; eight grandchildren, Krista, Silvio, Emily, Ryan, Celeste, Collin, Jake and Katelyn; and two great grandchildren Jason and Griffin. She was predeceased by her grandson Herbert William Iwer IV (Herbie), and her sister Stephanie Lewis.
Joan was born on Feb. 7, 1935 to John and Helen Kustodowich in Detroit. She graduated from the University of Michigan (who would have known) with a Bachelor’s, and Master’s Degree. She began her illustrious education career as a teacher in Detroit and ended it 42 years later as Principal of James Monroe High School in Los Angeles. The experience and knowledge Joan brought to Monroe changed the course of a failing school. Her vision gave birth to the Law Magnet with a realistic courtroom. She provided opportunities for the students to discover a passion for law with many alumni becoming attorneys and pursuing careers in politics. Her visions encompassed many careers and needs. She opened a children’s center for children of mothers attending Monroe, so they could have day care for their children and still graduate from high school, she revamped and brought culinary arts, aviation, fire academy and other programs to reach all students. The bottom line for Joan was always the best interest of the students and addressing their needs. She received numerous honors, including LAUSD’s Principal of the Year award, and an American Hero in Education award from Reader’s Digest.
After she retired and moved to Coronado, she spent her time with her grandchildren and volunteering with the Soroptimist of Coronado and the Assistance League of San Diego.
Joan loved her family first, education second, music third and last, but not least, Michigan football.
In lieu of flowers please donate to the American Heart Association. No services are planned.