A Tribute to Joanne Malatesta Davidoff

By Ethel Siegel

Joanne Davidoff died on July 11, at the age of 88. In this article I’d like to give my perspective on this dynamic woman whom I have known for many years.

My first memory of Joanne was as a nursery school teacher at the School for Blind Children at 36th and Palton Avenue. I attended there in the spring of 1956. I remember having much fun, singing songs and playing games. Joanne was always pleasant, at various times finding ways to reunite her former students.

In 1961 the school moved to Germantown, where it became known as the Upsal School for Blind children. In 1966 my parents wanted me to do some volunteer work , and Joanne was happy to welcome me to play piano and help the children with beginning braille.

In 1967 my parents invited her to my sweet 16 birthday party. She gave me a gift of perfume which she labeled in braille – I really appreciated that, I was very surprised.

I lost contact with Joanne for many years, then we became reacquainted through PCB and were roommates at several conventions. She was a staunch advocate for braille, and a longtime member of the Jenny Beck Chapter of the Braille Revival League.

Joanne was always very patient with me when I became disoriented. She never scolded and was always willing to help. She had a soft, youthful voice and I enjoyed her laughter. However, she could speak her mind when something annoyed or upset her, but she never used profanity. Whenever I told her of something that bothered or frustrated me she was never judgmental, making suggestions of how to cope with the situation I had discussed.

She procured a speaker to come to a regional meeting to speak about hearing loss and how to handle it. She tried her best to attend meetings even when she wasn’t feeling well.

Joanne, my good friend and first teacher, we will always remember you, because you are unforgettable. You lived a full life and impacted many people. You always stuck to your guns, and everyone knew where you stood. Rest in peace.

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