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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A memorial ceremony is being planned here for Joan Mendel, a Yokota East Elementary School teacher for 34 years, from the school’s 1972 opening until this year.

Mendel, 75, died Tuesday. Though no date has yet been arranged for the Yokota service, another memorial service was to be held Thursday in Savannah, Ga., where she was born.

“Joan was one of those people whom you will never forget,” Dr. Nancy Bresell, director, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific/Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) Guam, was quoted in a news release as stating.

“Even in her last weeks, she was answering letters sent to her by her former students. Her reach was incredible.”

Mendel also spent much of her time teaching orphans at the Aiji-No-Ie orphanage near Yokota, was instrumental in food and clothing drives and was an advocate in pet adoptions at Yokota Air Base, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Survivors include two sisters and several nieces and nephews, the newspaper reported.

Messages to be shared at the Savannah memorial service may be e-mailed to Mendel’s sister at In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Aiji-No-Ie Orphanage or the Yokota Pet Adoption Center.

“The entire faculty and staff of Yokota East Elementary are saddened to lose a wonderful teacher, friend, and mentor,” Lillian L. Hiyama, the school’s principal, was quoted in a news release as stating. “We will miss her.”


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