Mary Joanne “Jo” Hillstrand
Aug. 28, 1938 – Nov. 3, 2020
Mary Joanne “Jo” Hillstrand, 82, passed away peacefully at home in Anchorage on Nov. 3, 2020, surrounded by family.
Jo was born Aug. 28, 1938, to Earl and Mary Jane Hillstrand in Washington, D.C. The family had relocated to D.C. from Tacoma, Washington while Earl attended The George Washington University Law School and later practiced law.
In 1942, 4-year-old Jo travelled by steamship with her family from the Port of Seattle to Seward. The family continued to Anchorage by train to begin life on the 160-acre homestead located north of Chester Creek and west of Lake Otis Parkway. Initially the Hillstrands lived in a Quonset hut, but soon built a more permanent home to better accommodate the family which had grown by one with the birth of Mo in 1952.
Jo graduated from Anchorage High School in 1955. She attended the University of Puget Sound, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology in 1959. In 1961 Jo moved to the Bay Area to begin a long career in medical technology and clinical chemistry. Jo worked as a supervisor for Smith Kline Beckman until 1982, when she joined City Diagnostics as president, general manager and chief technologist. Jo lived in Mill Valley and Walnut Creek before purchasing a house on a steep San Francisco hill where she lived with partner Jan Terpan and beloved Saint Bernard, Josa. Jo was an avid football fan and longtime 49er season ticket holder. She also enjoyed golf, travel, photography, painting, and hosting family and friends on visits to the big city.
Following Jan’s passing in 2004, Jo sold her home in San Francisco and returned to Anchorage to be closer to family. She purchased and remodeled a home in the Geneva Woods neighborhood. She also designed and built a cottage on her Bishop’s Beach property in Homer. Jo remained active and independent until just prior to her passing.
Jo was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and MaryJane Hillstrand; older sister Gail Hillstrand (Johnson); and younger brother John Hillstrand.
She is survived by sister Mary Margaret “Mo” Hillstrand; niece and nephew Kathy Pereira and Matt Johnson and their families; and nephews David, Johnathan, Andy, Michael and Neal Hillstrand and their families.
A family memorial and celebration of life is planned at Jo’s Bishop’s Beach cottage in the spring.