Obituary for Joan Paulsen - East Idaho News
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Joan Paulsen

March 13th, 1926 - May 5th, 2024

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On May 5, 2024, Joan Woodland Paulsen, 98, went home to her Heavenly Father.

She was born March 13, 1926, to Ephraim James and Bertha Marie Hansen Woodland in Richmond, Utah. As a child she loved to dance, act, climb tall trees, and help her brothers tend to the cows.

She contracted German Measles, which left her with poor eyesight and an irregular heartbeat. Despite this, she excelled at spelling and loved to read. During the 7th grade, Joan was selected as a cheerleader, and the family moved to a farm in Ucon, Idaho, the next year. The family had been given a piano and Joan had taken a few lessons. There was not enough room in the moving truck for the piano and the cow, so the piano was left behind.

During high school she worked on local farms and took piano lessons, practicing on the church’s piano. She attended Ucon High School and thoroughly enjoyed being in school plays, singing Danish songs, and playing the Hawaiian guitar in assemblies. She also loved to play and compete in basketball and received honors in Journalism.

Following high school graduation, Joan worked at Heise Hot Springs during the summer. When she was 20 years old, her family finally got a piano. She practiced 6 hours on many days and became good enough to play in primary. She paid for her lessons by helping her teacher, Mrs. Henderson, with her children and doing some cooking and light house work as she taught piano.

Mrs. Henderson eventually gave Joan a few of her students to teach in her home.

Joan moved to Utah and worked in the Ogden arsenal. She enjoyed interactions with the prisoners of war, her mother soon joined her, also working in the arsenal. Joan attended Weber State College and participated in intramural basketball, being on the championship team.

She returned to Ucon and taught Hawaiian guitar for Mr. Howe in Idaho Falls for three years.

She loved to go roller skating and one night she met the love of her life, Wennie Paulsen. As they skated together, they tripped on something on the floor and they literally ‘fell for each other.’ Joan won a scholarship to attend the Sherwood Music School in Chicago to study piano teaching. After her semester in Chicago, she returned to Idaho Falls and married Wennie Ferrel Paulsen in the Idaho Falls Temple on September 6, 1950. They lived in Roberts, Idaho, for a short time, then in Idaho Falls for the rest of their marriage.

Wennie worked as a mechanic and Joan taught piano, guitar, and accordion lessons to hundreds of local residents. Joan was a member of the Idaho Falls Music Teachers Association, PTA President for Clair E. Gale Jr. High, and a wonderful mother to six children.

Many days were spent with the family gathering around and singing and playing instruments that they had been taught to play by their mother. She instilled a love of music in her children and a love of the Savior as well. She served faithfully in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including organist, pianist, Primary and Relief Society teacher, Stake Missionary, and was a diligent Visiting Teacher. One of her most cherished callings was serving as an organist at the Temple, which she did for many years.

Her main loves have always been playing music, going to reunions, and Christmas time.

Education was important and she would often correct her kids’ poor grammar. She believed in the value of hard work and instilled that value in her children. Wennie and Joan painted and repaired many houses, their own and others’. She always grew a garden, canning and preserving lots of food to be enjoyed on cold winter days. Besides spending countless hours playing piano and other instruments, she enjoyed reading scriptures and church magazines, watching basketball and news on the TV, doing jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Wennie passed away on April 19, 2018. Joan’s health began to decline a few years later, and she went to Pearce, Arizona, to live with her daughter, Jeanine. Joan has spent the last year in the care of The Homestead Assisted Living in St. Anthony, Idaho. The family wishes to express their thanks to the many care givers for their excellent care.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Ephraim and Bertha Woodland; husband, Wennie Ferrel Paulsen; four brothers and their wives, Owen (Maria Marchena) Woodland, Laurel Harry (Donna Robinson) Woodland, Roland Bert (Carla Jenkins) Woodland, and Larreau James (Lois Ricks) Woodland; two sons, Jerry Craig Paulsen and Dennis Wynn (Catherine Mandall) Paulsen; one grandchild and three great grandchildren.

Joan is survived by one brother, Steven Juan Woodland; four children, Ferrel Kay (Kaylene) Paulsen, Jeanine (Lyman) Hepworth, Marie (Brian) Hansen, and Robert Dale Paulsen; a daughter-in-law, Betty Elaine Austin Paulsen; 34 grandchildren, nearly 100 great grandchildren and a few great-great grandchildren. She will be dearly missed.

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, May 10, 2024, at the Idaho Falls Stake Center, 1155 1st Street. The family will visit with friends from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Wood Funeral Home, 273 N. Ridge Avenue, and prior at the church from 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Burial in the Ucon Cemetery immediately following the service.

Condolences can be sent to the family at

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