Joan Langford

April 19, 1934 - May 6, 2016
Martin, MI



Tuesday, May 10, 2016
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Friendship Wesleyan Church
1285 Starr Road
Plainwell, MI 49080


Tuesday, May 10, 2016
11:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT
Friendship Wesleyan Church
1285 Starr Road
Plainwell, MI 49080


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Make-A-Wish Michigan
648 Monroe Ave. NW Ste. 104
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 363-4607
Web Site

Arthritis Foundation - Michigan Chapter
1050 Wilshire Drive, Ste. 302
Troy, MI 48084
(800) 968-3030
Driving Directions


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

Plainwell Flowers
117 S. Main
Plainwell, MI 49080
(269) 685-8055
Driving Directions
Web Site

110 W. Allegan St.
Otsego, MI 49078
(269) 692-3951
Driving Directions

Life Story / Obituary


There was no one quite like Joan Langford. With ways all her own, she was devoted to her family in whom she found the greatest joy, and she was dedicated to everything she put her mind to. Just as giving, Joan was a caregiver in every sense of the word. She was an independent woman, and with her spitfire nature, Joan ruled the roost in many respects. Her love was unconditional, and she stood firmly by her family’s side whenever there was a need. Joan was the glue that held her family together. Dearly missed, life will never feel the same without her.

Born on April 19, 1934, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Joan was the daughter of Earl and Nell (Verhage) Clay. She came into the world at a time when families struggled through the hardships of the Great Depression, and impending war overseas. People learned to find joy in the little things, like gathering around the radio or going to a picture show which was a welcome deviation from everyday worries. Joan’s father worked as an electrician while her mother remained at home as a homemaker. The oldest of the Clay children, Joan later welcomed two younger sisters, Shirley, and Pat. Joan enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation, and the friendships of many. The Kalamazoo area schools provided her early education, and she went on to graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School with the Class of 1952.

While in high school, Joan met the young man of her dreams, John Langford. He worked on a turkey farm Joan’s mother worked at for a time, and she brought him home for dinner one night, which also happened to be Joan’s seventeenth birthday. With the only dollar bill he had in his pocket, John gladly gave it to Joan for her birthday which truly impressed her. From that moment on, there wasn’t anything John wouldn’t do for his beloved, Joan.

Joan and John began dating at a time when the Korean War was news of the day. After Joan signed John up for the draft, he went off to serve in the war. Upon his honorable discharge and the war’s thankful end, the couple was happily married on March 18, 1955, which was only the beginning of many more wonderful years to come.

The newlyweds made their home in Kalamazoo and before long they began a family of their own which came to include five children. Sadly, their first baby died before their second child, Gary came along. After having lost yet another baby, they were eventually blessed with the births of Debra and Mark. With faith as her guide, Joan never forgot the two little ones she lost as infants and was forever grateful for the children she was able to lovingly raise.

Joan made a good home for John and the kids. She took good care of their home, and she was a wonderful cook, too. Even well into later years, it was important to Joan to have her family gather for meals together. Her kitchen was filled with the many chicken items she collected and received as gifts over the years. She also did a lot of vegetable canning, and dried beans, as well. And truth be told, Joan had quite a sweet tooth!

Although Joan was mainly a homemaker, for a time she did work for an insurance company and on an egg farm. She liked being at home, caring for her family and keeping on top of things. She could be quite feisty at times, and her independent nature was not to be challenged, yet Joan was just as loving and dedicated to the family entrusted to her care. Family meant everything to Joan, and she would not have wanted it any other way. She had her rules, but even Joan bent the rules now and then. Even though cats were never allowed in the house, Joan doted on her cat, Erma, a good old farm cat that Joan would sometimes sneak into the house.

In her free time, Joan enjoyed gardening and sewing and did so often for her family. Her favorite place to visit was Florida to see her sisters where good times were sure to be enjoyed. Joan had a love for the outdoors and all it had to offer, and she loved just being outside in general. The enjoyment of seeing her immediate and extended family together was always a joy for Joan. These family reunions were also important to Joan which provided memorable times to remember. Joan was a loving and devoted grandmother to her grandchildren. She loved them dearly, and they could always count on her. Even as they grew older, the grandchildren continued to bring grandma and grandpa lunch during the week.

Giving was a natural part of Joan’s selfless heart and she never ceased in giving to charities. Faith was also an integral part of Joan’s life. She counted her many blessings, and Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ” was one of her favorite scripture verses. When it came to music, she counted, “Just As I Am” and “In the Garden” as the songs that truly spoke to her heart.

Independent by nature and a true spitfire, Joan Langford was a loving and nurturing example in the lives of her family. Her life was enriched in countless ways, and she considered herself blessed. She leaves behind numerous memories to be treasured, and although deeply missed, she will be lovingly remembered

Joan E. Langford, of Martin, passed away on Friday, May 6, 2016, at the age of 82. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, John; two children: Gary (Donna) Langford, of Martin, Debra (Reggie) Franks, of Plainwell; five grandchildren: Amy (Randy) Benders, of Martin, Jonathan (Renee) Langford, of Otsego, Emily Langford, Mark Langford, Jennifer (Joe) Erwine, of Delton; six great-grandchildren: Faith, Charlie, Lane, Marah, Christian and Wednesday. She is also survived by her two sisters: Shirley (Budd) Norman and Pat (Don) Witherell, both of FL. She was preceded in death by two infants, her son, Mark (1988) and grandson, Samuel.

The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, May 10th, 11:00 AM at Friendship Wesleyan Church where her family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial at Hillside Cemetery. Those who wish may make contributions to Make-A-Wish Foundation and/or to the Arthritis Foundation. Please visit Joan’s web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory and/or photo and sign her online guestbook.