Joan Mary Dorothy DeRycke-Lambka

Joan Mary Dorothy DeRycke-Lambka

Joan Mary Dorothy DeRycke-Lambka

La Grange, Ill.

Joan DeRycke-Lambka was born on Nov. 27, 1931, in Hartwick, Iowa, to parents Henry and Mary (LaKose) DeRycke.

A dedicated educator, Joan graduated as Valedictorian from Hartwick High School in 1949. She obtained a two-year Elementary Teaching Certificate in 1950 from the University of Northern Iowa. Continuing her academic journey, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa in 1968 and earned an MBA in Finance from Northern Illinois University in 1971, becoming the first woman to achieve this distinction from the College of Business.

Joan’s professional legacy unfolded in Chicago, where she served at Heidrick and Struggles, Inc., and the Federal Reserve of Chicago from 1974 to 1995. Noteworthy roles included Assistant Vice President and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Directors.

Recognized for her contributions, Joan received prestigious accolades, including Distinguished Alumnus of the Year from Northern Illinois University in 1982 and Member of the Year from the International Association for Personnel Women in 1983.

In matters of the heart, Joan married Lowell “Si” Schwinger in 1957 and later Donald R. Lambka in 2003. She cherished a special friendship with Thomas Moran. She had two sisters, Evelyn Wauters and Harriet Bruggeman. She leaves behind a special legacy through her nieces, nephews, stepchildren, and step-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her spouses, parents, sisters and two nieces.

An avid traveler, Joan explored seven continents, 139 countries, and embarked on 114 cruises by April 2020. Her journeys included Arctic expeditions and encounters with diverse wildlife.

In 2013, Joan moved to Plymouth Place Retirement Community, La Grange Park, Ill., where she served as Friendship Committee Chair and initiated community projects.

Joan lived by the mantra, “This life is not a dress rehearsal!” and encouraged others to embrace life fully. An active member of cultural institutions, her intellect, warmth, and zest for life touched many.

Joan passed away on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, at Plymouth Place. She left an indelible mark during her 91 years of life. Her legacy of love, learning, and laughter will endure in the hearts of those who knew her.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Plymouth Place at a later date. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to: Wellness House – Cancer Support Group, Doctors without Borders, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, or to Plymouth Place.

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