She was born Nov. 19, 1923, in Fort Wayne, Ind., the daughter of Charles H. Buesching and Lillian (Busch) Buesching. She was educated in the Fort Wayne Public Schools, graduating with honors from North Side High School, and attended Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., where she graduated Cum Laude, with a major in economics and minors in government and history. She married William F. McNagny on Feb. 2, 1949.
She was a member of Mortar Board, and President of the Women’s Student Government. She worked for a time in Philadelphia, and was book editor of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in Philadelphia. She then returned to Fort Wayne.
In Fort Wayne, she was active in community and state projects, and served on many boards, including the Fort Wayne Urban League. She was a member of the Governor’s Task Force on youth unemployment, a member of the Indiana Adult Literacy coalition, and a member of the Indiana Curriculum Advisory Council. The governor appointed her to the first Board of Trustees of the Indiana Vocational Technical College and she served on the Board until 2009. She was Ivy Tech’s first woman chairperson, and Ivy Tech honored her in 2011 by conferring an honorary degree from the college. She was active in Indiana Public Broadcasting, the State Board of Vocational Technical Education, and, a member of the Fort Wayne Public Television Board. Joan also was very active in Junior League, and was President of the Fort Wayne Junior League. She took a similar active interest in the Law Auxiliary of both the State and American Bar Associations. She was President of the Indiana Bar’s Law Auxiliary and was President of the Law Auxiliary of the American Bar Association.
Her lifelong interest in and devotion to improving education is widely recognized. She spent 6 weeks in Leningrad, Russia as a guest of the Russian government and the University of Leningrad to speak on education. She also spent 3 weeks in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Guilin, China, meeting and talking with Chinese education leaders. Indiana Governors Otis Bowen and Robert Orr recognized her devotion to and involvement in state education and community projects, and she three times received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, Indiana’s highest honor. Joan was an active supporter of the Arts, and in April of 2013 received an award for lifetime achievement in the Arts from the School of Creative Arts of the University of Saint Francis.
She is survived by her husband of 65 years; a son: Charles W. (Deborah) McNagny, Fort Wayne; daughters: Joyce M. (Michael) Critelli, Darien, Conn.; Sally E. McNagny, M.D. (Dr. Robert C. Green), Wellesley, Mass.; grandchildren: Ryan W. McNagny, Michael A. Critelli, James M. Critelli, Katherine S. Critelli, Nathaniel C. Green, Courtney L. Green and Lachlan M. Green; and step-grandchildren: Eric J. Potthast and Lindsay C. Potthast.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at First Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Wayne St., Fort Wayne, Ind.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, 50 W. Fall Creek Parkway, North Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46208 and Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, P.O. Box 548, Syracuse, IN 46567.