An appreciation for what came before melded with the desire to preserve and pass such knowledge along has propelled Pittsburgh native Joan Witt to local historian status in her adopted community of East Liverpool.
Following her graduation from Bellevue High School in 1952, Witt, daughter of the late Charles Albert and Helen Ferguson Witt, attended Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va. and earned a bachelor's degree in education. A teaching position at the then newly opened Westgate Junior High School brought her to East Liverpool. For 17 years she taught health and physical education at the junior high level, all the while continuing her own education. She received a Master's Degree from Pitt and has completed additional work at Ohio State and Youngstown State universities.
In addition to the years logged as a teacher, Witt served as a guidance counselor at the junior high/middle school level for another 25, retiring in 1997 from the East Liverpool Middle School.
Despite her retirement, Witt also often still can be found in area classrooms where she volunteers as a HOST mentor, helping students improve their reading skills, or offering information about various aspects of local history. Driven by an intense interest and penchant for genealogy and local history, she has written many articles and given many programs pertaining to the history of East Liverpool and the surrounding Tri-State Area. She has done extensive research on Columbiana County's Revolutionary War veterans, one-room schoolhouses and women of achievement.
A trustee of the East Liverpool Historical Society since 1982, she now serves as vice president in charge of programs and the research of the society. Under Witt's direction, some of the historical society's annual dinner programs have won recognition and awards at the state level. She is well noted locally for her portrayal of Florence Updegraff, one of East Liverpool's early female educators and former principal at the Central School. Having served as the City Chairman for the Ohio Bicentennial Committee, she has been on the radio once a month discussing local history throughout 2003 and 2004. A trustee and historian of her home church of Greenstone United Methodist in Avalon, Pa., Witt has been a member of the Southwick-Griscom-Kinney Daughters of the American Revolution Rebecca Griscom Chapter since 1979 and has served as a state committee chairman for 14 years
In addition to her educational and historical pursuits, Witt also is involved in community activities. An associate member of the East Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, she served on its former tourism committee. She has logged thousands of hours of volunteer service for the East Liverpool City Hospital Ladies' Auxiliary. A member of the East Liverpool Business and Professional Women's Club for 45 years, she has served in most local chairmanship and office capacities. She has served 18 years on the state Board. She's been a member of the National Young Careerist Committee for two years and presently serves as trustee of the Florence Allen Endowment Fund. She also has been a member and past president of Quota International of East Liverpool since 1986. In 2004 she was inducted as a member of Kent State University East Liverpool's Wall of Fame. In 2002 she was recognized by the Morning Journal as one of the 100 most newsworthy citizens. The 1996 recipient of the East Liverpool Area Jaycees Civic Service, she was given the title of Honorary native of East Liverpool in 1991.