AUBURN – Joan Willander Cassidy of Auburn passed away at home on Sunday evening, February 1st. She was 89 years old.
Joan was born on January 10, 1926 in Boston, the daughter of Bernard Willander and Marion Dunn Willander. She grew up in Belmont. She studied chemistry at Tufts University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1947. There she met her future husband Frank whom she married in 1949. In 1953, they moved to Auburn, where Frank practiced dentistry and they lived the rest of their lives. Frank died in 2011.
Joan was a homemaker and mother of four sons, but she was involved in many Auburn civic activities, including the town meeting, the Board of Library Trustees, and the School Building Committee. She belonged to the League of Woman Voters, the YWCA and was a reporter for the Auburn News. She served as an Auburn Selectman from 1982-1994.
Joan and Frank were involved in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. They were active in the Democratic Party but they had friends of all political stripes.
Joan was an avid walker, who got to know many people as she traipsed all over town. In 2001-2, at age 77, she and her friend Adele Smith walked every street in Auburn, a total of 147 miles. She and Frank also traveled overseas regularly. In recent years, she became a member of the Pakachoag Community Church, where she found community and connection.
Joan is survived by her brother Richard and sons Neal of Berkeley CA, David of Lexington KY, Nevan of Hancock NH, and Peter of London England, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Her brother Robert died in 2014.
Joan donated her body to Tufts University School of Medicine. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations in Joan’s name may be made to the