Joan S. Provencio
A Mother to Thousands
June 9, 2014 - International
October 3, 1934 - June 1, 2014
Joan (Slight) Provencio first came to NPH in the early 1960’s. Little did she know the impact it would have on her life and on the lives of thousands of children who would come to call her “madre”.
Joan grew up in Minnesota and moved to the “big city” of Chicago after high school to live with her cousin, Janet Cremin. The two were working at Cook County Hospital doing secretarial work and saving their money to go on a trip to Europe. When their car broke down, on a whim, they decided to scrap the idea of the trip to Europe, buy a Volkswagon Beetle instead and drive from Chicago to Mexico.
In 1963 Joan was taking Spanish classes and started working for Father Wasson’s father in his office around Christmas time because Janet had heard they were looking for volunteer help. Father Wasson’s father was taking care of all the business aspects for him.
In 1964 Joan began working for Father Wasson as his secretary and a big part of her day was going to get the mail, opening it and hoping to find a check. She met and married volunteer and counselor, Alfredo Provencio. Together they oversaw the transformation of the Alcoman facility into a thriving home including a school, home, farm, and gardens. When asked about the children’s life there, Joan would laugh and say that the children slept in three tier bunks and every single night at least one of the children would fall out of a bunk.
Joan liked clerical work and was a gifted administrator. In 1969 she pioneered what would come to be known as the annual NPH board meetings or more recently as the NPH International Family Weekend. It started as a simple open house event with a cocktail party and banquet fundraiser. Each year the annual meeting grew until the 50th anniversary in 2005 that had over 500 attendees.
When Joan´s dear husband, Al, died in a car accident returning from visiting the pequeños studying university in Monterrey, Father Wasson asked Joan to take over the administration of NPH, which by now had moved to its present locations in Cuernavaca and Miacatlan.
As the director of NPH Mexico, Joan strongly advocated on behalf of the girls and young women of NPH, in what she jokingly referred to as the “Joan and Janet Agency. “ She taught them English, found tutors for them and urged Father Wasson to assure the girls had the same opportunities as the boys received. To further the cause, she sought out scholarships at the University of South Carolina for a group of young women who attended and all successfully graduated. All of these women still think of and refer to Joan as their mother.
As NPH expanded from only Mexico to Honduras, and then on to Haiti and the other countries, Father Wasson decided he needed an umbrella organization to oversee the work being done in all the homes. So in 1992, Joan became the first Executive Director of NPH International, a post which she held until her retirement.
There are many children named “Guillermo” (for Father Wasson) throughout the homes, but there are also several children and adults in the NPH family who are proud to bear the surname “Provencio”. NPH was blessed to have her as the mother of our family.
On Sunday June 1, 2014, after several years of health problems, at 79 years old, Joan went home to her eternal reward with our Lord.
She is survived by her cousin Betty (George) Boesen, Nieces Mary (Brian) Fodor, Patty (Rusty) Williams, Susan Long and nephew Andy (Sharon) Long and her NPH family throughout the world.
She is preceded in death by her parents, Marion and Andrew Slight, her husband Al Provencio, her sister Marilyn Long and cousins Katherine McDonough and Janet Cremin.
Director of Communications - NPH International