Extraordinary is a word that best describes Joanne O’Kelley Kline and her family.
Her father, Dave O’Kelley, was a consultant to NASA in helping to analyze the first moon rocks that came back on Apollo 11. Due to his association, Joanne had the opportunity to be able to watch the astronauts return to Houston — still in their space suits. Mother Genie Rae O’Kelley was a flight instructor from the 1960s through 1990s. She was voted Flight Instructor of the Year by the FAA for the US and Puerto Rico in the 1980s.
Successful parents produce successful children. Along with Joanne is her brother Kevin, a computer analyst living in New Hampshire.
After the death of her father in 2011, her mother moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to Joanne and her family. Just turning 92, Genie resides at Brittany Pointe in Lansdale.
Joanne and Kevin grow up in the Smokey Mountain region of East Tennessee. Joanne always knew her life’s direction was in public service. She did her under graduate work at the University of Tennessee. A BA degree in Behavioral Science — and Elementary Education from Lincoln Memorial University. Later on, during her career years she received a Masters Certificate in Gerontology from Temple University and a Master’s from West Chester University as well.
As a newlywed there was a relocation to the Philadelphia area. Actually, living in Coatesville, she taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in the Coatesville School District for a few years.
Moving her career along Joanne worked with Meals on Wheels at the Montgomery County Senior Adult Center (SAAC). Plus, she was a caseworker and then Assistant Director for Long Term Care in Norristown, when she started working for Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services in 1982.
From 2000 to 2014 she became the executive director for Montgomery County’s Office of Aging & Adult Services, and she worked for the County for a total of 32 years.
While she was executive director her community involvement was vast, with interests outside of work (to name a few) — such as the Girl Scouts, Day Care Centers, many nonprofit boards and church leadership.
In 2014 Joanne moved on to head the VNA Foundation of the Greater North Penn area, a local non-profit foundation building a stronger and healthier community.
Before her retirement from the foundation (May 2019) she received the “Pillar of the Community” Award from local senior centers. She remains with the VNA Foundation on a consultant basis and still serves on local boards. Actually, I am not sure she realizes that she is retired.
She has two sons — James and Jeff and three grandchildren. Jeff lives in Collegeville and James resides in West Norriton. Joanne herself recently moved back to West Norriton from Schwenksville. We are somewhat of neighbors — living right around the corner from me.
With her busy schedule she enjoys country, line and swing dancing, crafts, and traveling (her current travel adventure is to Alaska.) Both she and James love gardening.
No matters wherever she goes, Joanne O’Kelley Kline moves with grace and strength.
She tries to eat healthy. But being from Tennessee she leans towards southern cooking. It is a wonderful comfort to her. Sharing with us her Spoon Bread recipe is served with lots of butter.
JOANNE’S SPOON BREAD
1 cup cornmeal*
2 cups cold water
2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 to 3 eggs
2 Tbsp. fat or melted butter
Preheat oven to 375-degree oven.
Mix cornmeal, water and salt in pan and allow to boil for 5 minutes. While boiling stir in milk and well-beaten eggs. Stir in fat/melted butter. Pour quickly into a well-greased HOT baking dish – about 2/3 full. Bake for 50 minutes at 375-degrees. Spoon it out and serve hot with butter on top. It is so good.
*Joanne uses freshly ground cornmeal from the Smoky Mountains.
Contract Bette at banjack303.verizon.net. Search YouTube – with BetteBanjack. As well as phoenixvillenews.com (search bar Banjack). She can be found on Facebook. Her book “2 Cups of Yesterday” can be found at the Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her directly.