News: Longtime educator Sister Joanne Simonini dies

April 29, 2021

Sister Joanne Simonini

Longtime educator and Des Moines native Sister Joanne (Lisbeth) Simonini died April 24 in Dubuque. A Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM), she died at age 89.

Virtual funeral services will be May 3 with sharing of memories at 9:30 a.m. followed by a virtual visitation. Mass of Christian Burial begins at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Dubuque.

All events can be viewed through the livestream at

Sister Joanne was born Aug. 12, 1931 in Des Moines. She attended St. Ambrose Elementary School and St. Joseph Academy in Des Moines. She entered the BVM congregation on Sept. 8, 1951 from Holy Trinity Parish in Des Moines. She professed first vows on March 19, 1954 and final vows on July 16, 1959.

She taught in Missouri and California, though a large portion of her years of service were in her hometown of Des Moines.

Sister Joanne began at St. John School in Des Moines in 1974 as a teacher, then became the principal the following year. She served six years until the school consolidated with others to form holy Family School in 1981. She became its first principal and continued in that role through 1988.

From 1990 to 2000, she was the director of religious education at St. Joseph Parish in Des Moines.

She continued to volunteer at the parish and Holy Family School through 2012.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Elizabeth (Leo) Sarcone. She is survived by a niece and niece’s husband, Susan Sarcone and Mitchell Schneider, Arlington, Va.; cousins; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM with whom she shared life for 69 years.

Memorials may be given to the BVM Support Fund, 1100 Carmel Drive, Dubuque, IA 52003 or online at