Joanna M. Champlin passed away on Nov. 22, 2019, at the age of 85 after a long illness. In life she was surrounded by many loved ones, including her four children and their families, three stepchildren, many friends and the love of her life, Shawnee Brittan.
Joanna was born on Nov. 15, 1934, in Enid, Oklahoma and graduated from Enid High School in 1952. She attended Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, her freshman year and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with honors with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
While at OU, she was news editor of the Oklahoma Daily, on the Union Activities Board and active in Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was honored with a variety of awards, including Miss Journalism, Mortar Board and Letzeiser honoree. In 2009 Kappa Kappa Gamma named Joanna its alumna of the year.
Her activities at OU hinted at a lifetime of service that would exemplify Joanna's passion for the arts, OU and the community in general. She also was a worldwide traveler, a philanthropist and an art collector.
In Enid, where she raised her children when they were young, she was involved in Junior Welfare League, PEO and First Presbyterian Church.
In Oklahoma City, she was active on boards of the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation and the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame at the time of her death. She also served on the boards of the Western History Collections at OU, the Jacobson Foundation in Norman, the Oklahoma Arts Institute, the Oklahoma Museum of Art, OKC Theater Co., Ballet Oklahoma and the Champlin Foundation. She was president of the OU College of Fine Arts' Board of Visitors from 1998 to 2000, an organization for which she was a founding member and longtime board member. She was also instrumental in founding a film program called the Independent Film Program at OU (IFP/OU). Gov. Frank Keating appointed her to the Oklahoma Arts Council in 1994 and she served for the next six years, including as vice president and chairman of the State Arts Collection Committee. She contributed to the planning for MAPS by serving on the Oklahoma City Alliance for Cultural Facilities from 1985 to 1990 and was a member of OU's Reach for Excellence national campaign committee. She was on the steering committees of the How the West Was Won gala for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Indian Ballerina Archives project for OU's School of Dance and the Native American Play Festival. She also along with her husband was a major sponsor of The Red Dirt International Film Festival.
Joanna received the Oklahoma Governor's Arts Award in 2002 and was honored in 2007 with her induction into the OU Seed Sower Society. The Oklahoma House of Representatives awarded her with a citation for the Brittan-Champlin media production of "The Cherokee Strip" for the Cherokee Strip Centennial celebration.
The state House also awarded her with a citation for the 1998 production of "En Pointe, The Lives and Legacies of Ballet's Native Americans." This documentary premiered in New York and was sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.
In her career Joanna produced other documentary films with her husband Shawnee and won awards for the work. These included "Carmina Burana," "Dido and Aneas," Sleep My Son," "Grand Ride of the Abernathy Boys," "God's Drum" featuring Te Ata and "Downwinders."
Joanna was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and celebrated 34 years of sobriety in March 2019. She and Shawnee remained active in Alcoholics Anonymous delivering a message of experience, strength and hope, and served as an inspiration to many people, including family and friends.
Joanna was the granddaughter of Herbert Hiram Champlin, who made the Cherokee Strip Land Run, staked a claim in Enid and founded the First National Bank. He brought in his first oil well on Christmas Day in 1916, a purchase that led to the founding of Champlin Refining Co. with holdings that included a refinery, pipelines and 500 gas stations from Texas to Iowa. Champlin Refining was the largest privately owned integrated oil company in the world in its time.
Joanna is survived by her husband Shawnee Brittan; her children, Elizabeth Thomas "Betsy" Rook and her husband Roger of Glendale, Calif.; Noble K. "Toby" Thomas and his wife Lou Ann Thomas of Edmond; Brooke Helen Thomas Cohn; and Andrew Thomas and his wife Mary Anne Savage Thomas, all of Oklahoma City; three stepchildren, Grant Brittan and his wife Karen of Oklahoma City; Tiffany Brittan and her wife Tammy of Port Orchard, Wash.; and Lance Brittan and his wife Anne-Val of Norman; eleven grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. She is preceded in death by her mother and father, Jane Edwards and Joe N. Champlin; her brothers, H.H. "Bud" Champlin and Douglas "Doug" Champlin; and one of her grandchildren.
The memorial celebration of her life will be on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Donations may be made in her name to the Western Club, 5207 N Western, Oklahoma City, OK 73118, which is a foundation that supports the AA fellowship, or Kappa Kappa Gamma, University of Oklahoma, P.O. Box 2187, Columbus, GA 31902-2187
This page was updated: Sunday, 01-Dec-2019 20:53:02 CST
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