JoAn Baldwin Zalewski, 89, peacefully passed away January 30, 2020, with her dog, Polly, and loved ones by her side.
JoAn was born February 23,1930 in Kalispell, MT, the only daughter of Charles and Mildred Baldwin. She shared many fond memories with her friends the “Eastside Angels” and wonderful summers with her 3 brothers on Foys Lake. Kalispell was where she developed a love for singing, dancing, and performing. Her passion turned to drama studies at the Universities of Montana and Washington.
In 1951, JoAn moved from the high hills of western Montana to the highrises of New York City where she pursued singing, song writing, and acting. She transformed her talents and charisma into an illustrious chanteuse career traveling and performing worldwide.
While performing in Thailand, JoAn met Air Force Major Leonard Zalewski and they married in 1972. In 1974, Leonard was assigned as the U.S. Embassy air attaché in Poland where JoAn and her mother entertained or hosted as you might expect. In 1980, Leonard retired from the Air Force and they moved to Los Angeles so JoAn could continue her entertainment career.
Throughout their marriage, JoAn and Leonard made summer pilgrimages back to Montana. They held legendary parties and shared wonderful adventures with loved ones at their Flathead Lake cabin. Leonard preceded JoAn in death, and she moved back to live fulltime at her enchanted cottage in 2010.
JoAn will be remembered as a supportive wife to Leonard, an accomplished chanteuse, an actress, an adventure seeker, and, in her own words, a “bold, barbaric, and bright” woman. She touched countless lives and all who met her were inspired by her vibrant personality and zest for life. She will be forever missed, yet solace is found knowing she shall have music wherever she goes.
A graveside service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 21, 2020, at the Conrad Memorial Cemetery in Kalispell. Her life celebration follows from 11:30-2:30 at Northwest Montana History Museum.
In lieu of flowers, JoAn asked for contributions to be made to the Humane Society of Northwest Montana, PO Box 221, Kalispell, MT, 59903.
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