Beloved WSU Grad and Adjunct Professor Passes Away at Age 70

Joann Hildebrandt (WSU BA, MA, & Ph.D. '09)

Joanne Marie Hildebrandt (née Farley), 77, of St. Clair Shores, left the Cinema of Life on Saturday, November 19, 2022, with her daughter by her side after suffering from the effects of Myasthenia Gravis.

She was the beloved Wife of Harry A. (Tony) Hildebrandt (deceased), Mother of Anne, and Grandmother of Alexander & Elise. Her parents, Casto & Polly (née Sterk) Farley, and her brothers, Michael P. (Debbie) & Richard J. Farley, predeceased her.

Joanne was born in Hamtramck and grew up on the eastside of Detroit, in California (Palo Alto and San Jose), and in Warren. She graduated from Fitzgerald High School in 1963 and went to work for the Gas Company and the Arts Council. She met Tony when they were in High School and married him on November 14, 1964. When Tony was drafted to serve in the Army in Vietnam (1967-69), she waited patiently at home while working and then supported him when he returned and furthered his education.

In 1973, Joanne began a new role as an extremely devoted, wonderful, stay-at-home Mom to Anne. She was a Girl Scout Leader, helped coach softball, served as the School Board Chairman at St. Joan of Arc, and was on the Parents' Board at University Liggett School. From home, she also managed the consulting business that Tony founded, Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Educational & Training Associates (MVMETA).

In the 1990s, she became a student going back to school to finish her own educational goals. She obtained her Associate Degree at Oakland Community College followed by her Bachelor's (PR/Journalism), Master's (Radio, T.V., & Film), and Ph.D. (Terrorism in the Media) degrees at Wayne State University which she finished in 2009.

Afterward, Joanne fulfilled teaching roles as a part-time adjunct professor at both Wayne State University and Oakland Community College teaching classes in Communication, Writing, and Film. She was also a Union Steward at Wayne State University for the Union of Part-Time Faculty (UPTF) and advocated for the betterment of her fellow employees. She was beloved by students and coworkers alike. Kimberly Conely, WSU part-time faculty, shared her words in rememberence: "My WSU colleague and cherished friend Dr. Joanne Hildebrandt was kind, loyal, and principled. Joanne's generosity and encouragement was limitless, and extended to family, friends, colleagues, and most importantly to her students. Joanne's presence in the halls of Manoogian will truly be missed."

Joanne was a film buff from an early age when she would go to the movies with her Aunt Velma even sometimes catching double features. Her favorite neighborhood theater was Cinderella. She liked all different genres, but she enjoyed mysteries the most. She was also an avid reader and loved to travel, but her treasured pastime was going to the movies. Her favorite mystery writers were Agatha Christie and Sue Grafton.

In 2010 and 2012, she became a grandma and took on one of her most cherished roles. She had a special bond with her "Pigeon" (Alex) and her "Doll Face" (Elise) and even got the chance to be their personal, in-home, Pandemic instructor after retiring from Wayne State University in 2019, which included time for movies. When Alex & Elise returned to school in September 2020, she drove them to and from school every day. Until she was very ill, Joanne was always present at Alex and Elise's sporting events, recitals, and school events.

Joanne was the kindest, smartest, most insightful, generous woman with the biggest heart. She was always there for her family, friends, and students and truly made the world a brighter place.

In addition to her immediate family, Joanne is survived by: her nephews, Sean M. & Ryan P. (Rachel) Farley; her cousins, Mary Stout, Carole Farley, June Farley, Eugene (Dot) Farley and their families, the Beaufore Family, and the Schutz Family; cousins-in-law, Joanne Commyn (Gari), Linda Elias, Michele Vitale, & Michael Fremont and their families, The O'Connells, and The Millers; and her friends that were close to her heart, Pat Duncan & Family, Angelo (Pat) D'Anna & Family, Diana Penczak, Kimberly Conely, and Christine Piestrzynski.

If you are interested in donating to a scholarship in honor of Joanne, click here.

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