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Joan Walker Bissell
October 6, 2017

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Joan Walker Bissell, 89, accomplished Buffalo artist, died in her sleep after a long illness on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

Born on June 18, 1928, she was well known for her vibrant watercolor paintings, especially her expressive, colorful landscapes, which were shown in various Buffalo area galleries including the Albright Knox and Impact Gallery. They are still enjoyed in many homes around the country. For decades, she painted with Robert N. Blair, her good friend and mentor. She was a founding member of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, and in 1953 co-founded the Williamsville Art Society. On the family farm in South Byron, she often painted in her Schoolhouse Studio.

An artistic eye was cast on everything she did, and for 30 years Jo worked as a respected fashion consultant for the Doncaster clothing line.

Wherever she went, she was always the most stylishly dressed woman at the party, and twice a year her home was transformed into The Old Brick Boutique where she sold the latest fashions to friends and acquaintances.

She loved to ski, play tennis, bike ride, and travel. She practiced yoga before it was all the rage and shared her passion with other adults by teaching them as well. With her husband, she was a founding member of the original Buffalo Curling Club, and in 1969 she went on a seven-week camping trip to Alaska with her husband and three children. She was always up for an adventure. Other than an annual trip to the beach and various painting and biking trips, Lake Placid was her favorite place to vacation, and during the 1980 Winter Olympics, she transformed the family rental property into the Raccoon Sleeping Bag Inn.

She gave her time to the Women's Board of the Buffalo Zoo and was a past volunteer of Millard Suburban Hospital. During her lifetime, Jo enjoyed memberships in the Twentieth Century Club, the Country Club of Buffalo, and the Lake Placid Club. Additionally, she was a life member at Godfrey's Pond. She attended Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville.

Many people will remember her as the eternal hostess. She truly believed "the more the merrier," and at her place there was always "room at the inn" for anyone in need of a friend or a home. Jo had a positive attitude that affected everyone around her and gave her an unusual strength through times of adversity.

Born in Batavia in 1928, Joan Adele Walker was the daughter of Mary Cooper and John Dewey Walker. While she was still very young, her family moved to Williamsville, the place she would call home for the rest of her life. She went to The Academy Street School from kindergarten through 12th grade.

After attending Russell Sage College and Michigan State University, Jo graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts and returned to Williamsville where she married, Arthur Douglas Bissell II, her best friend's older brother, a civil engineer and veteran of World War II.

Together they had three children: Arthur "Chip" Douglas Bissell III of Lake Placid, Cinda Bissell Stone and Dan Walker Bissell both of Williamsville, not to mention a plethora of dogs and cats.

Throughout their early years, Jo was deeply involved in activities that enriched her children's lives as a member of a nursery school co-op, teacher of children's art classes, and a Girl Scout Leader. Along with the arts, she widened their world with a keen interest in nature and sports, always encouraging them to think outside the box. She was a true artist in every aspect of her life.

She was predeceased by her parents, her husband, and her brother, James Cooper Walker.

She is survived by her children, their spouses (Sandy Edgerton Bissell, Wesley David Stone, Becki Brunton Bissell), six grandchildren: Sage Bissell Ruttan and Whit Edgerton Bissell of Lake Placid, and three great-granddaughters.

There will be a celebration of her life at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at Calvary Episcopal Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jo's name to Hospice Buffalo or The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

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