Joan Moynihan and Paul Woodcock


1937 – 2024

A lifelong spiritual healer


Joan Irene Moynihan, a lifelong spiritual healer, animal lover, and fashionista, passed away from congestive heart failure at Shasta Regional Medical Center, in Redding, CA, on February 13, 2024, with her loving partner, Paul Woodcock, at her side. She was 86.

Joan’s comprehensive career ranged from nursing and family counseling to flight attendant and sales. At one point she combined her care skills and travel as a volunteer for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The charity’s primary task is to love and care for those persons no one else is prepared to look after. Volunteerism was Joan’s thing.

One of two daughters, Joan Irene was born October 14, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois to Irene Moynihan and John Moynihan, a lawyer infamous for going after gangsters who didn’t pay taxes. She and her sister Mary grew up in Chicago and attended Catholic schools, where Joan’s interest in becoming a psychologist began.


Joan’s sense of style and fashion

Where her father was overbearing, her mother, a go-getter, worked for Mayor Richard Daly and was a fashion buyer for a big department store in Illinois. Thus, Joan’s sense of style.

An eager student, she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of St. Teresa, St. Mary’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN in 1959. She got her Marriage and Family Therapist certificate from Dominican University in San Rafael, CA in 1983; her Ph.D. in East West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco in 2000, and she completed a Registered Nurse Refresher Program in 2009.

As an RN, she worked as a Nurse Manager of Pediatrics, at St. Mary’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic, and in the ICU at Northwestern Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

After her first twenty years in nursing, Joan’s love of travel led her to spend several years as an international flight attendant, advisor/consultant, and international purser for United Airlines. She was later employed as a Registered Psychological Assistant, at BAART (Bay Area Addiction and Research Treatment Center), in Oakland, CA.


Drum roll, please

Enter Paul Woodcock. Drum roll, please. Joan first laid eyes on Paul, a successful, matinee idol type with curly brown hair and a booming voice, at an AA meeting she was in charge of some 24 years ago. But they didn’t connect until Paul happened to shop for broccoli a few days later at a Safeway he’d never frequented before and saw Joan.

He said something, to which she replied, “I remember you.”

He asked how she knew him. “By your voice,” Joan replied.

He called it “divine intervention.”

Already smitten, Paul, 11 years sober at the time, was struck by Joan’s ravishing smile, her blonde hair, and “beautiful blue eyes that just melt you.” She reminded him of “The Good Witch of the West (Glinda) in The Wizard of Oz,” he said. “Angelic.”

The two began dating, suffering one breakup, before Joan moved from an apartment in Mill Valley into Paul’s English Tudor home in Bella Vista, CA, roughly ten years ago. One thing they shared was a love of animals, including Joan’s two little Bichon Frisés and Paul’s various large dogs and many cats.


They never married

Although they never married, Paul’s lifestyle, and his love for Joan, were enough for her, their 24-year partnership lasting until the end of her days. The couple relished staying home, Joan’s lively conversations centering on her world travels and interesting challenges while a nurse and psychologist. Interested in the arts, especially Japanese art, she loved dining at home and at restaurants, hiking, and pampering their dogs and cats.

“Her little dogs miss her,” said Paul, who plans to give away Joan’s incredible wardrobe, “closets full of clothes” including “some things never worn”, and her 60 pairs of shoes. “She overbought food, everything,” he said with a sad laugh.

As far as Joan’s religious affiliation, she remained a Catholic, as is Paul. With Joan’s assistance, Paul has remained 35 years sober.

At a later date, Paul plans a memorial service for Joan at his family plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA. After her parents died, Joan claimed she was “the last of the Moynihans.”

Instead of flowers, Paul suggests that donations be made in Joan Irene Moynihan’s name to Siskiyou Humane Society (, 1208 North Mount Shasta Blvd., Mt. Shasta, Ca 96067. The society exists to improve the lives of companion animals by sheltering, rehabilitating, reducing pet overpopulation, and finding permanent homes.


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