Joan Leffler died on January 28, 2023, from metastatic breast cancer. Joan was born on July 25, 1949, in Detroit to Fred and Mary Westgate. She attended the public schools in Royal Oak, Michigan, received her BA in French from Alma College, and her MA in Spanish from the UW-Madison.
In the 1970s she worked as a transcriber and translator of 18 th century documents on The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution in the UW History Department, where she met Rich Leffler. Unbelievably, this beautiful and talented woman married him. (Her one-character fault was terrible taste in men.) Also in the 1970s, Joan met many exchange students from Monterrey Tech and elsewhere in Latin America, including Andrés Treviño (and, later, Jackie Treviño), Eduardo Lopez (and, later, Ileana Elizondo), and Edmundo Calva (and, later, Alma Ayala), all great friends to the present.
In the early 1980s, she worked for the precursor to DOIT at the UW, where she met her lifelong friends Lis Owens and Bernadette Rhiel. From 1991 to her retirement in 2014, Joan served as the Administrator in the German Department at the UW, where she made many friends among the faculty and graduate students, too many really to mention individually.
In 2018, Joan became an officer in the University League and then served two terms as president, before becoming co-treasurer in 2022. In mid-January 2023, after feeling fatigue for some time, Joan was diagnosed with metastasized breast cancer. She chose not to undergo chemotherapy, and the disease advanced rapidly. Joan died at home, under the care of the superb nurses at Agrace. They are a wonder. Joan is survived by her husband Rich and three sisters: Robbie (Larry) Wiseman, Deborah Westgate, and Julie Westgate, brother-in-law, Les and nieces and nephews.
The visitation will be on Thursday, February 2 at the CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Rd., from 10:00 to 11:00. Joan’s service will be held at 11:00 will be presided over by Covenant Presbyterian Church Pastoral Rev. Dr. Charlie Berthoud. Interment in Forest Hill Cemetery.
Rather than flowers, gifts in Joan’s memory may be sent to Agrace ( https://www.agrace.org/donate/donate-today/ ), to the UW Kids Cancer Fund at the American Family Children’s Hospital, or to the University League General Scholarship Fund.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison