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Joan Walker Bissell, 89, watercolor artist

June 18, 1928 – Sept. 23, 2017

Joan Walker Bissell, of Williamsville, a watercolor artist, died Sept. 23 in Wells Hospice House at Beechwood Homes, Getzville, after a long illness. She was 89.

Born in Batavia, the former Joan Adele Walker came to Williamsville with her family as a child. She attended the Academy Street School from kindergarten through 12th grade.

She attended Russell Sage College, took art courses at the University of Buffalo and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1953.

In 1951, she married Arthur Douglas Bissell II, a civil engineer and World War II veteran who was her best friend’s older brother.

While her children were young, she was a member of a nursery school co-op, taught children’s art classes and was a Girl Scout leader.

Well-known for her vibrant watercolor paintings, for decades she painted in outdoor settings with her family friend and mentor Robert N. Blair, the influential local master of watercolor art.

Her colorful landscapes were shown in Members Gallery in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Impact Gallery in the Tri-Main Center. They also can be seen the Creekview Restaurant in Williamsville and the Village Glen Tennis Center in Williamsville.

She was a charter member of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society and in 1953 was a co-founder of the Williamsville Art Society. She often painted in her Schoolhouse Studio, which she established on her family’s Walkayr farm in South Byron.

A stylish dresser, for more than 30 years she was a wardrobe consultant for the Doncaster clothing line. Twice a year, she transformed her home into The Old Brick Boutique, selling Doncaster fashions to friends and acquaintances and hosting trunk shows. She also traveled to New York City to serve as an adviser to the company on designs.

With her husband, she was a founding member of the original Buffalo Curling Club. She also enjoyed skiing, tennis, bicycling and travel and was an early practitioner of yoga.

She and her husband took their children to Alaska on a seven-week camping trip in 1969. Her favorite vacation destination was Lake Placid, where she turned the family rental property into the Raccoon Sleeping Bag Inn during the 1980 Winter Olympics and provided bed-and-breakfast lodging for international visitors and reporters.

“She was very adventurous,” her daughter, Cinda Bissell Stone, said. “She never said no to travel. She was very optimistic about everything. She would always figure it out.”

She was member of the Women’s Board of the Buffalo Zoo and a volunteer at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. She had been a member of the Twentieth Century Club, the Country Club of Buffalo and the Lake Placid Club. She attended Calvary Episcopal Church in Williamsville.

Her husband died in 2002.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include two sons, Arthur D. “Chip” III and Dan W.; six grandchildren and three great-granddaughters.

Services were held Oct. 12 in Calvary Episcopal Church, 20 Milton St., Williamsville.

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