JoAnn Cardin stays busy helping others

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

JoAnn Cardin of Leachville is a people person and stays very active helping others. Even though she could retire, she chooses to continue working part-time caring for people as an in-home caregiver.

JoAnn Cardin graduated from college in 1994 on her 60th birthday.

Cardin, a native of Leachville, returned to Buffalo Island in 1999 after many years in the St. Louis area and central Florida area. She left Leachville in 1952.

She was the first born of 12 children of Dee and Faye Puckett.

"I came back home for sentimental reasons," she said. "I had a lot of family members here and it just seemed like the timing was right."

Her philosophy has always been "a stranger is just a friend you haven't met." She has made many friends throughout her life and travels.

She was one of the first in her family to graduate from high School. She attended a three room school at Rocky and later graduated from Leachville High School before leaving the area.

She raised three sons, Dennis and twins, Donald and Ronald. It was more like raising triplets as the boys were so close in age. Dennis was born premature getting down to less than two pounds. He spent several weeks in the hospital before he was able to come home. Nine and a half months later, the twins were born premature, also. They weighed over four pounds each. For two months of every year they are all the same age.

She raised her sons on her own working as a waitress.

"I did a lot of other things but I always went back to the restaurant business," she said. "I liked meeting the people."

Donald lives in Illinois and Ronald lives in Texas. Dennis died in 2006.

JoAnn Cardin, Leachville

Cardin has four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

She always called Leachville home. When her babies were little and she wanted to come home for a visit, she would put them in the car and they came home.

Cardin decided to go to college after her sons were grown. She graduated with a second degree on her 60th birthday in 1994. Her degrees were in computer and desktop publishing.

"When I started to school I got very frustrated but I decided the computer is just a machine and I would not let it get the best of me," she said.

After graduation she worked at a community college in the computer lab.

"I was out of my timeframe so I had to conform to my students way of thinking," she said. "I got along well with my students. I have always loved learning and the college setting. If I had gotten an earlier start, I could have easily been a professional student."

Cardin has survived a lot in her lifetime, including a serious automobile accident in 1962.

"I always refused to have a nervous breakdown," she said "I have been blessed with good health, good family and good friends. The Lord is always in charge and He has always gotten me through."

Cardin lived in Florida in 1998 when a devastating tornado demolished her neighborhood. Forty people were killed and many more injured.

As a survivor of the storm, she was invited to New York to be on the Geraldo Show. It was her first and only trip to New York but she said it was quite an experience.

"He (Geraldo Rivera) treated us with the highest respect," she said.

Cardin didn't come home to Leachville to sit and do nothing and has been very busy over the last 10 years. She serves on the Housing Authority Resident Committee. They have raised a community garden for everyone to share. They have worked to fill boxes for military men and women serving overseas and had a booth at the American Cancer Buffalo Island Relay for Life. She also sends cards to all of the residents on their birthdays. She will put a dollar bill in the cards for the children.

"The kids look forward to their birthday cards," she said.

She enjoys attending the women's community prayer group once a week.

"We've seen some prayers answered," Cardin said.

She has also served on the city's beautification committee. She and committee members worked to get old tires picked up throughout the area.

In the mid-1990s Cardin had an exchange student from Russia in her home.

"He was a very nice young man," she said. "I often wondered about him. A few years ago, I received a call and he and his new wife were in Florida. He was going to college at the University of Kansas and he invited me to come and visit and meet his parents and wife. I did and we had a wonderful reunion. They were such nice people."

Cardin enjoys working and going but she also enjoys sitting at home and visiting with the neighbors.

"At one time we would all sit out under a tree and visit," she said. "We called it Happy Corner number two."

Cardin said as long as the good Lord gives her health, she will do her best to serve others and be there when there is a need.

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