Cover photo for Joanne F. Kaarto's Obituary
Joanne F. Kaarto Profile Photo
1961 Joanne 2021

Joanne F. Kaarto

April 4, 1961 — March 22, 2021

Wife. Mother. Nannie. Sister. Friend. Nurse. Warrior:

Joanne F. Kaarto, 59, of New Ipswich, NH passed away peacefully while surrounded by her loving family on Monday, March 22, 2021, after a year of fighting her courageous battle with cancer.

Jody was born in Peterborough, NH on April 4, 1961, daughter of the late William and Patricia (Toko) Thayer. As a little girl, she loved dresses and baby dolls and small trinkets she could tuck away into her pockets. From the time Jody was young, her siblings will tell you how much she loved to care for others, especially her little brother Phil and her baby sister Susie.
So naturally, after Jody graduated in 1979 from Cushing Academy in Ashburnham MA, she went on to proudly earn her nursing degrees from Mount Wachusett Community College and Fitchburg State University.

Jody had been a Registered Nurse for over 30 years, beginning her career in the med-surg and then intensive care unit at Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH before eventually moving into the executive and educational sides of nursing. For the past eight years, Jody had worked for Anthem as a Process Improvement Director where she developed educational platforms that acted as a bridge between doctors and their patients. Her natural instinct to care made her an incredible nurse, leader and a very special person to so many people.

Jody is survived by her husband of 40 years, James N. Kaarto of New Ipswich; her daughter, Meagan P. Kaarto and her partner Peter of Portsmouth, NH; her two sons, Nathan J. Kaarto and his wife Kasey of Greenfield, NH and Ryan R. Kaarto and his wife Anna of Keene, NH; her three sisters, Susan Wydra and her husband Brian of Dover, NH, Pamela Dutton and her husband Stephen of Vienna, VA and Mary Bernard and her husband Stephen of Hilton Head, SC; her brother Philip Thayer of New Ipswich, NH; 4 grandchildren: Hunter, Zade, Nyla and Bodhi; three nieces: Emily, Sarah and Elizabeth; six nephews: Stephen, Scott, Bob, Bryce, Matthew and Christopher and, of course, her beloved English Lab, Bonnie.

Jody grew up in the Congregational Church of New Ipswich where her family was active for many years. She especially loved her time as a Sunday School teacher, participating in the Children’s Fair, and helping to put on the Christmas Eve pageant when her children were young.

Wife. Mother. Nannie. Sister. Friend. Nurse. Warrior. Guardian Angel- This is Jody. She will be remembered as the very best pie-maker, cook and homemaker. She loved the holidays and summer days on the boat with Jay. She enjoyed the theater, ballet dancing, long sister weekends, travel, decorating, shopping & baking with Meagan, day trips to see Susie, long talks with Nathan, watching movies with Ryan, Hunter’s basketball and football games, Zade’s hockey games, singing with Nyla, snuggling with Bodhi, going to Woman’s Retreats with Kasey, swapping nurse notes with Anna, and taking Bonnie for walks around the neighborhood.

Many people remember Jody for the bright light she carried when she walked into a room and her wise insights into what it means to be human that she so willingly shared when needed.
Jody lived her life guided by the principle of attitude. Ironically, many years ago, a beloved friend and colleague of Jody’s was battling cancer. Every day, Jody watched her friend practice the power of positivity no matter the challenge. This truly inspired Jody enough to ask her dear friend, “What’s Your Secret?” Her friend smiled and handed Jody a copy of Pastor Chuck Swindoll’s “Attitudes,” and it changed Jody’s life. When Jody came home from work that day, she shared the poem with her family before framing and hanging the profound words on the bulletin board in her kitchen where it still sits today.

In honor of our beautiful, brave Jody, she’d want to share with all who knew her Swindoll’s “Attitudes”

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes”

Thank you to all who walked with Jody in support of her fight. Thank you to all who knew and loved Jody. Thank you to all who will ensure her spirit lives on through the attitude of positivity and kindness and compassion.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making celebration-of-life contributions in Jody’s name to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, 580 Court St. Keene, NH 03431, or to Joy’s Network, 463 Washington St. Keene, NH 03431. Both projects work together to support New Hampshire women and their families battling cancer.

In accordance with Jody’s wishes, private grave-side services will be held at the convenience of her family.

The God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10

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