"She seems to never stop giving and serving our community."
It was an easy choice for The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce to select Joan Silver as Woman of the Year in 2017. That same year, a Mid-Columbia Senior Center newsletter called her “an example of the older adults throughout this community who decide to use their ‘retirement’ years to make a difference — not for financial gain or for personal recognition.” Her interest in civic life is wide-ranging, and often her effort has focused on making life better for seniors.
Joan moved to The Dalles in 2004. It didn’t take her long to immerse herself in the life of the community, using her background in professional tax preparation and accounting.
In 2005, she served as the Chamber of Commerce coordinator for Cycle Oregon’s visit to The Dalles; in 2006, she was one of the Saturday Market managers. She was vice chair of Wasco County's Economic Development Commission, a member of the Wasco County Home Rule Charter committee, and a participant in the Ford Institute Leadership Program.
She also served on School District 21 and Port of The Dalles budget committees, and on the Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Advisory Council.
When the Chamber of Commerce honored Joan as Board Member of the Year in 2010, Director Lisa Farquharson said, "She seems to never stop giving and serving our community." Currently, she serves on the chamber’s Economic Development Committee.
In 2011, Joan was a member of The Dalles Business Team, a network that helped businesses work their way through unfamiliar bureaucracy.
She took on a gargantuan task when she agreed to help get an elevator for the Mid-Columbia Senior Center. Many center attendees could not navigate the exterior stairs between the main floor and basement. As the project chair, Joan wrote the proposals and did the fundraising that helped the center obtain seven different grants as well as one large and many smaller donations toward construction. The elevator passed its final inspection on August 8, 2017, after eight years of effort. Joan is currently on the center’s board of directors.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Joan will be able to rejoin the weekly Government Affairs breakfasts at the Barbeque, sponsored by the chamber, which she said were very useful to keep current on what was going on in the community.
In her spare time, Joan is an avid reader, who especially likes science fiction. She is a mahjong enthusiast and hopes to get back to playing when the senior center can host the games again.
When asked what she hoped her legacy would be, Joan said, “I don’t need one.” But it’s easy to see that she will be remembered for her civic engagement, optimistic attitude, and willingness to persevere to see a project through to its conclusion.
Julie Reynolds, Ph.D., is a gerontologist who grew up in Sherman County and lives in The Dalles. During her career, she was a Senior Research Associate at the Institute on Aging at Portland State University, and a rural outreach coordinator with the Oregon Rural Practice-Based Research Network at OHSU. She is a member of the board of the AgePlus Foundation.