INSIDE THE I-TEAM | JOHN FERAK
Joann Foreman's strange disappearance from Appleton has a sad ending, but her family has closure.
"Without the assistance of the Appleton Police Department, the mystery would not have been solved," said her nephew Blaine Smith, a retired police officer in Cheyenne, Wyo. "We would still have been searching."
Joann's missing persons case was highlighted here on the Fox Cities FYI page. For more than 40 years, her family wondered if she met foul play or whether she abandoned her four young children while living in Appleton in 1969.
It turns out she left Appleton to start a new life in the South. She died there 19 years ago.
A library in Tennessee was able to track down Joann's newspaper obituary, Smith said. She had died of cancer in March 1994. The obituary included the names of her birth parents, Smith said.
"It really sounds like she was trying to hide her true identity from Appleton, Wisconsin," Smith said.
The obituary revealed:
In Tennessee, Joann married in 1972. She worked in the garment business. The couple adopted a child in 1980, but Joann's husband died shortly afterward.
She then married Larry Highland, which ended in divorce. When she died, her obituary listed her name as Joann Highland.
Oddly, her obituary and headstone listed her as being born in March 1945. She was really born in 1943, Smith said.
Besides the incorrect year of birth, he also wonders why Joann cut off all contact with family for the last 25 years of her life.
"A lot of it doesn't make any sense, but at least now we have closure as to her whereabouts," Smith said.