The Abusua (Clan)   






Joan Catherine Dwyer Marquardt Groody Ewald Fetzer

September 8, 1934 - April 16, 2000

...Joan Catherine Dwyer was born on September 8, 1934

in St. Vincent's Hospital in Leadville Colorado.

She was born a "blue baby," with a heart problem (Bill or Peter, the Web Lep needs help here.) Her parents, John William Dwyer and Mary Emily O'Keefe Dwyer, were told by doctors Leadville's high altitude, 10 000 feet, would further damage the baby. Within months, the family moved to Denver, 5 280 feet, into a house Grandma Catherine Timothy Gallagher Dwyer had bought in 1931 (for $3500 !!!) At that time, big brothers, Jackie and Billie, were five and four years old.

Joanie grew up on South Pennsylvania St. She went to Lincoln Elementary, St. Frances de Sales Elementary, Byers Junior High, South High in Denver and, for one year, the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The rest of this account should be read like a study of an archeological dig. There are fragments of the past, shards, imprints, impressions, which give some insight but not a complete understanding of a life lived (not so) long ago. They are memories of a sister.

.." There is space within sisterhood for likeness and difference, for the subtle differences that challenge and delight; there is space for disappointment - and surprise."-Christine Downing


Suzie Neering (< photo) was born and lived next door. Our favorite memory of Suzie was her mother, Flo, being obsessive about hygiene for her baby/ toddler and Suzie eating moldy remnants from tin cans in the garbage. Ah, the beauty of natural balance.

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Sisters in 1939 (two candles on the cake)..and..sixty years later. (Imagine the size of that cake.)

My memories do not easily sort into chronological sequence. They are fragmented. Joanie and I shared a bedroom together. It had stars on the ceiling and every night Joanie sang a lullaby, "Somewhere, over the rainbow." The lullaby ended with the lyrics, " Bluebirds fly over the rainbow. Why, then..oh, why can't I?" I had a reoccurring nightmare that Joanie would sprout wings and fly away, over the rainbow. She did...or was it I?


Joanie and Tooge 1> w/ Dad (c.1942) . 2> w/ Jack, Mom, Suzie N., Bill (1943) .3> w/ Grandma &Grandpa Dwyer (1947)

There were games, "Mother, May I?" on the front steps, "Pick-up sticks," "Jump rope," "Jacks," "Hopscotch" and tea parties when we were very young. Later, we graduated to "Kick the can" played in the middle of the intersection so we would have to dodge cars, "Tarzan" with Jack as the great white hunter, Bill as Tarzan, Joanie as Jane and Tooge as the Chimp. "The War" with fox holes we dug in the vacant lot. When not playing games with the gang, we played in very different ways and lived in parallel universes. Joanie loved dolls, while I kept an imaginary herd of mustangs in the back yard. When my best friend, Babe, and I were in our tree climbing period, we had no idea or cared where Joanie was.


1> Tooge, Joanie (1947) .....2> w/ Grandma D., Dad, Pa Dwyer (1947)..3> w/ Bill and Jack (1948)

Despite our differences, as sisters sharing a room, we learned very early how to manage space. We devised a rigid longitudinal/ territorial approach. We made a line down the middle of the room, including splitting a dresser. Half of each drawer was tidy and contained rubber bands, a sling shot and other precious items. The other half was messy and feminine. A truce was negotiated when my collection of worms was banned from the bedroom. When we were old enough to climb out the window, we would sit on the front porch roof and talk and giggle, instead of going to bed.

Joanie with hairdresser Mom, 1952

We had minimal contact with each other during most of our adult lives, until a few years ago. During our last visit, we reminisced about our family. How quiet we would have to be when our father got home from work.. How funny and eccentric our mother (the great squirrel hunter) was. ..The way we could make our mother angry (ma-a-ad) by calling her "Mrs. Poopdeck McSlurp" or acting like village idiots.. Jack and Bill always taking care of and advising us.. Our long family dinners when each of us would talk about our day.. Sunday trips to Lincoln Creamery for five-cent ice cream cones..Periodic family treks to Stapleton Airport to watch planes take off and land. Curiously, we did not talk about our adult lives. The few comments Joanie made about her present life were imaginary. Only after Joanie's death in talking with her five incredible daughters did I find the reason. But, that is another story.. or a book..or five books.


Once and only once, Joan said she abandoned her life and families for art. Now all we have to remember her by are a few paintings and five wonderful women who are her daughters and who are astonishingly strong despite or, perhaps, because of her. Yet, what a legacy!

(l to r)  Laura, Jan, Marcy, Paula, Kim

Our Family

Our family is a circle of love and strength.

With every birth and every union, the circle grows. Every joy shared adds more love.

Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.