A Tribute to Joan Bandeen

A Tribute to Joan Bandeen

Joan Sleeper Bandeen, a Spencerville Church member since 1969, passed away on the morning of October 10. She was able to remain in her home until her last day, apparently succumbing to a cardiac arrest. She was 92 years old. 

Joan and Bill Bandeen

Joan was born in Washington, DC on February 10, 1929, the elder daughter of an insurance executive and his wife. She excelled in school, ultimately graduating as valedictorian of the Holton-Arms School class of 1946. Early on she found a passion for nursing, ignited by service as a World War II Junior Army-Navy Guild Organization (JANGO) health aide beginning at the age of 13. She went on to earn a combined BS/RN from Hood College and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 1951. 

Joan relished her career in nursing, beginning with a short stay at Garfield Hospital before moving on to the Walter Reed Medical Center from 1951 to 1953—during the Korean War. Thereafter she served at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) until 1960. Joan related many meaningful experiences through these years, including accompanying injured servicemen and cancer patients in their final hours of life. She assisted with care in fascinating cases at the NIH, including a conjoined twin separation and other advanced neurological surgeries. 

In 1960 Joan married William (“Bill”) Bandeen, a NASA scientist and reserve Army captain, who would prove the love of her life. A homemaker thereafter, she raised two sons and a daughter in the ensuing years—all of whom attended Spencerville Academy. She created a loving, nurturing, and supportive home for her children, encouraging their academic success and providing for happy experiences throughout. Among her highest passions during these years was a love of animals: numerous bird feeders always were maintained in the yard, and pets included a succession of 12 poodles, three ponies, two cats, and sundry chameleons, snakes, turtles, rabbits, and fish. She was an informal breeder and dog show enthusiast, with the dogs ultimately earning numerous obedience titles. Her “Bandit” won the pinnacle title of Utility Dog. During the 1990s and 2000s, she co-led a poodle rescue leading to the saving of numerous dogs.  

Joan with her dogs, Ballad and Bandit, in 1983

Joan was raised Episcopalian and spent 10 years as a practicing Catholic before encountering the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1957. She embraced the faith shortly thereafter, holding it throughout the rest of her life. As her children were growing, she served as Sabbath School teacher, led in Ingathering campaigns, and contributed to many Vacation Bible Schools. Bill joined her in the faith in 1975: Some may remember his longtime service in the Spencerville Choir and as a Sabbath school instructor. Both were longtime supporters of Spencerville Adventist Academy. 

Bill passed away in 2004: Joan spent her remaining years living quietly at home, supported by her children. Though beset by arthritis and somewhat mobility-limited as a result, she enjoyed essentially good health until the last year or so of her life. Even then she remained at home, lucid and enjoying historical videos and the occasional bridge game, and embracing her faith to the end. She was grateful for the many floral displays and contacts from her church family after becoming essentially homebound in the final several years of her life.

Joan is survived by her children; Kevin and Julie Bandeen, Keith Bandeen, Karen Bandeen-Roche and Bill Roche; as well as two grandchildren, Mary and Preston Busha; and beloved nieces DeVoe Campbell, Rosanne Toll and Lorelei Novak. They will miss her dearly. Her children feel fortunate to have had this wonderful woman as their mother, and they look forward to seeing her once again upon Jesus’ return!


Visitation for Joan will take place from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, at the Hines Rinaldi Funeral Home, 11800 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20904. A private memorial service and burial will follow on Sunday, October 17.