School 17
Official Obituary of

Joanne M. Ayotte

September 3, 1934 ~ February 24, 2024 (age 89) 89 Years Old

Joanne Ayotte Obituary

A life well lived! What a perfect description of the 89 years that Joanne Ayotte spent on earth.  Joanne passed away peacefully at home on Saturday February 24, 2024.

Joanne was born on September 3, 1934, to Frank and Stephanie Pulte in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She arrived with a caring heart that showed every day in her love of family, friends, tasty food, animals, plants, and most of all children. 

She graduated from Mt Mercy High School and then continued her education at Michigan State University earning her master’s degree in education.  Joanne was a devoted teacher, principal, and Director of Elementary Education for Grand Rapids Public Schools.  After retiring from Grand Rapids Public Schools, she continued her educational expertise by joining Break Through to Literacy and traveled to many states to share this literacy program.   She distinguished herself as a superb educator and received numerous awards for her many accomplishments. 

But Joanne was so much more.  She and her husband Jim traveled the world so that Jim could photograph animals in their natural habitats. They also visited, photographed many historic locations, and shared wonderful adventures with the local citizens who soon became lifelong friends. 

She and Jim also shared a passion for breeding, raising, and showing champion Belgian sheepdogs. For over 10 years they traveled the US dog show circuit where they again made many friends and won numerous ribbons culminating with winning the Best of Breed award at the Westminster Dog Show. Throughout her life Joanne always had a Belgian sheepdog as a constant companion including her final days with the beautiful Josette. 

Entertaining was a true pleasure for Joanne.  Cooking a delicious meal or treating friends to dinner at her latest discovered restaurant was a special joy.  And decorating for various holidays, especially Christmas, was legendary!

Joanne became known as an avid gardener and cultivated friendships with owners and staff of nurseries and garden shops throughout Michigan. She was always on the lookout for the unusual and newest plants to grow in her gardens at both her home and at her summer chalet in Beulah. Nothing gave her more pleasure than to watch a plant grow and thrive. 

She loved to feed the many species of birds as well as the deer and other wildlife who called her property home. She wisely knew that feeding the wildlife would deter their need to eat her beautiful plants! 

Joanne was preceded in death by her Husband of 45 years James Ayotte, Father Frank B Pulte, Stepfather Fay Swann, Mother Stephanie Swann, brother and sister- in- law Frank and Delores Pulte.

She is survived by niece Jean (John) Magin, nephew and God son Frank (Kerry) Pulte and niece Yvonne (Ken) Johns-Smith, God daughter Robin (Rick) Prawdzik-White, cousins, friends, caregivers and medical team. A tribute and thank you to her Very Special Friends June Courtright, Joan Dawdy, Phyllis Easley, Joy Jonker, Mark Pulte, Larry Ingalsbee, Caryl Sue Abendroth, Ed and Mary Ann Andrews, Kathy Schultz, RN and Dr Sam Giovannucci.

A Celebration of her life will be held at 11am on Saturday March 23, 2024 at Metcalf & Jonkoff Funeral Home, 4291 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, with visitation one hour before the service, beginning at 10am.  Following the service a reception will be held at Watermark Country Club.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to either Kent County Animal Shelter or the Kid’s Food Basket in memory of Joanne. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joanne M. Ayotte, please visit our floral store.

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March 23, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Celebration of Life
March 23, 2024

11:00 AM
Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service
4291 Cascade Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546


Kent County Animal Shelter
740 Fuller Ave. N.E., Grand Rapids MI 49503
Tel: 1-616-632-7304

Kids' Food Basket
2055 Oak Industrial Dr NE #C, Grand Rapids MI 49505


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