Joanne Hirshberg Patheal May 18, 1951 — October 21, 2013
Joanne Hirshberg Patheal, 62, passed away on October 21, 2013 following a stroke in her Sierra City home. She is survived by her siblings, Lyn, Edward, Susan, and Wilson; her daughter, Sierra; her husband, Dennis; and her beloved canine companion, Nani.
Joanne was born to Lee and Natalie Hirshberg on May 18, 1951, in Oakland, California. She attended Montclair Elementary School and Skyline High School and went on to receive a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Soon after graduation, she accepted a job in Downieville’s planning department and immediately fell in love with Sierra County. She bought herself a motorcycle to explore the hills and get lost in the woods, and it was on this motorcycle that she met her husband, Dennis Patheal, near Nevada Street on Highway 49.
Although she left Sierra County at times—she and Dennis were commercial fishermen for seven years, and she lived in Oakland for over fifteen years after that—Joanne always returned to the mountains, first as the owner of the building that currently houses the Sierra City Library and then, since 2000, as the owner and operator of the Mountain Creek Restaurant, a project that soon came to epitomize her position in town and her connection to the community. She ran the restaurant like she ran her life: devotedly, energetically, and with a certain wry acceptance of all the stumbling blocks and uncertainties it continually posed. Joanne was passionate about education, service, and involvement, and she was rarely without a community gathering to attend, a child to tutor, and cookies to make for a bake sale the next day. She was a member of the Downieville Lions Club, the Sierra County Chamber of Commerce, and the Friends of the Library, amongst others, and she was instrumental to local events like the annual Wine in the Woods community fundraiser, the Big City Rod Run, and Sierra City’s after school homework club, to name only a few. Sierra City became not a getaway but a home, and it is with love that we return her to Sierra City now, if a bit farther up the road.
Joanne will be buried in the Sierra City cemetery on Saturday, October 26th at 1 pm, and a memorial service celebrating her life and legacy will be held in the spring. Please feel free to join us at either or both events to remember who she was and celebrate what she left behind. In lieu of flowers and cards, please send donations of any amount to the Downieville Lions Club Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 24, Downieville, CA 95936, in honor of some of the things Joanne held nearest and dearest to her heart.
She will be missed.