Joanne Durrence Harman, 91, passed away peacefully on July 14, 2020.
Born on August 31, 1928, in Savannah, Georgia to Audrey Edgar Durrence and Nita Rollins Durrence, Joanne graduated from Savannah High School in 1945, where she was named “Miss Savannah High,” and the University of Georgia in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts in Education.
As a child she was an accomplished pianist winning several state wide competitions and studied ballet under Ebba Olsen Thompson and at the American School of Ballet Summer Program in New York. This grounding in and love for the arts profoundly influenced her professional and personal life.
On August 21, 1949, Joanne married Robert Earl Harman and enjoyed a wonderfully loving marriage of 65 years until his death at the age of 92 on June 30, 2015. She taught elementary school for a number of years before her aesthetic interests led her to becoming an interior designer first with Ruth McQuire Interiors and later starting her own firm designing both residential and commercial interiors. She often worked with her husband’s design build company, Structioneers, Inc., in designing numerous commercial buildings in Savannah, Hilton Head, Brunswick, and St. Simons Island.
A major motivator in her life was sharing her love for music, art, and dance with children, students, and friends. And most of her volunteer work was focused on arts organizations including the Telfair Museum, The Savannah Symphony, and the Garden Club of Savannah. Joanne was a member of Skidaway Island Methodist Church.
Joanne was known as a remarkably kind and gracious person who was sensitive to the feelings and needs of others always placing the interests of family and friends ahead of her own. She always saw the best in everyone, always discerned the positive in every situation, always provided a helping hand to others, and always was fun-loving as a ready participant in Bob’s flying, boating, and skiing adventures. Joanne was also known for her fashion sense, for her beautifully decorated homes, and for her impeccable entertaining. She and Bob generously shared their collective life with others so often creating memories of great fun and camaraderie for so many. She was beloved by everyone who had the opportunity to know her and is remembered for her grace and joy of life.
Joanne is preceded in death by her husband and her brother Jack Gordon Durrence and sister Bettye Durrence Whiteman. She is survived by her son Robert E. Harman, Jr. and his wife Janet G. Harman of Savannah, her daughter Cynthia H. Conner and her husband Frank M. Conner III of Alexandria, Virginia, her three granddaughters, Isabelle D. Conner and Cynthia C. Conner both of New York, New York, and Katy H. Moser and her husband Robert D. Moser, Jr. and their sons Robert D. Moser III and Wilburn H. Moser of McLean, Virginia. She is also survived by 11 beloved nieces and nephews.
A memorial service to celebrate her wonderful life will be held later in the Fall.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joanne’s name may be made to the Telfair Museum, PO Box 10081, Savannah, GA 31412.
Heartfelt condolences over the loss of beautiful your mother. Style and grace followed her into every room she entered. We will never forget your beautiful and kind mother.
- Cindy and John Howard, Savannah, GA
Bobby and Cindy, I am saddened to learn of the passing of your mom. What a wonderful person! She was always so kind and caring to all your friends. Everyone loved her. I have many, many good memories of our childhood and being around your mom. RIP.
- George Patrick, Atlanta, ga
Dear Cindy, Bobby and family, I was so saddened to read of your mom‘s passing. Every word in the obituary was absolutely the truth. I remember so fondly how I used to love to come over to your house on Ashley. I’d see the table already set for the evening meal and know that was a valued time in your family’s life. She always had kind things to say about everybody and she was every bit as gracious as was indicated. As I’ve gone through my years living in Savannah anytime someone has talked about a “true southern woman “ it was your mom who would come to mind. She was one of my all-time favorite people and I know my mom considered her a truly dear friend. It was your mom’s guidance that led me to start my teaching career in upper elementary! (She suggested that third grade would be a good grade to work with and made me rethink working with the really, really young and I discovered I liked working with the older children very early on because of her guidance.). My thoughts are with you all during this time and I hope to be able to be here and see you in the fall when you have the memorial service for her.
- Sherry Clawson McClain, Savannah, Georgia
- CHERYL CLAY, SAVANNAH, GA
Bobby, Cindy and Family, I cannot tell you how very sorry I am to hear of Aunt Joanne’s passing. She was much loved and admired. She always looked impeccable and so stylish. But was also so much more - kind, thoughtful, charming. One always got the feeling that she just wanted the very best for you and to be happy. I wish you nothing but love and comfort during this time of great loss, and I pray she rests in peace. She will be missed.
- Lynn Harman Alexander, Savannah, Ga
What wonderful dear friends and lives JoAnne and Bob were blessed to share with so many and I was so fortunate to have their Harman love as well as Cindy’s, Jan’s and Bobby’s. Such a fun caring family. Too many happy memories to share! God Bless.
- Mary Conner, Richmond, Virginia
Dear Bob and Cindy, I am so sorry to read of the passing of your beautiful, sweet mother. Some of my happiest childhood memories are of times spent in your home and knowing all of you. Your mother was truly a very special lady and was so loved by everyone. My condolences are with you and all of your family.
- Debra Clanton Glaize , Savannah, Ga
I first met Mrs. Harman in June of 1970 when she drove Cindy and me to Tybee for a day at the beach....she was kind to me as she was to all she encountered. She impressed me as being a very positive person....I don’t think I ever heard her say anything bad about anyone...Throughout most of the seventies, I spent countless hours at their home on Ashley Road hanging out with Bob and Cindy....Mrs. Harman was always kind and upbeat. The only thing she she ever wanted from me was “just one” Krispy Kreme chocolate covered, cream filled donut...which I did too many times to count. Mrs. Harman (I could never bring myself to go call her Joanne even when I was in my 60’s), thanks for being so kind to me, for opening your home to me and for all you did for your community. I am pretty sure there is still “just one” donut for you In heaven. God bless you , Bob , Bob and Cindy.
- Rob and Lori Roberts, Savannah, GA
Barbara and I are so sorry for your loss. We loved Joanne so much and have wonderful memories of our times together. Please know that you all are in our thoughts and prayers.
- Barbara and Carter Hubbard, Savannah, Georgia
From the entire AMI team, our deepest sympathies and condolences to all. We cherish the memories shared of her life and will always remember to live a little more like Mrs. Joanne.
- Amber Then, Savannah, GA
Miss Joanne was a true lady. I enjoyed my time with her at the Marshes. She always used her sense of humor and I enjoyed that. God Bless her and wrap your loving arms around her.
- Penny Gibson, Savannah, Georgia
Dear Bobby, Jan, Cindy, and Rusty...our families go way back...more than 50 years! We were childhood friends and our parents shared many, many adventures together. Both of your parents seemed like an Aunt and Uncle to me and I have fond memories of summers together with you and the Whitemans!! Joanne is still considered my mother's best friend and we speak of her often here in California. I know my Mom really misses her. Bobby and Cindy, I know we have lost touch over the years, but I still reflect on our times together and appreciate how special both of your parents were. May they rest in peace. Love, The Ratchford Family
- Paul Ratchford, Oakhurst, CA
What a gracious, wonderful woman! We have so many fond memories enjoying Bob and Joanne's hospitality at one of their many parties. Joanne was always more focused on others than herself. For a person with so many talents, she was very modest. We hope that the family's fondest memories are a comfort in this time of loss.
- Phyllis and Bill Tildes, Savannah, GA
Services under the direction of:
Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
- A Celebration of Life Will Be held at a later date