Joan Petersilia Thomas  January 2 1951  September 23 2019

Joan Petersilia Thomas January 2 1951 September 23 2019

January 2 1951 September 23 2019
Joan was a loving wife, mother, sister, friend, researcher, teacher and mentor who passed away from ovarian cancer at age 68. Her loss is deeply felt by her family, many close friends, cherished colleagues, and former students. Joan’s outgoing, enthusiastic personality served her well as she enjoyed frequently hosting family and friends. Joan especially cherished the opportunity to get to know her students on a personal level. Joan was born in Pittsburgh, PA. to Ernest Lester Ramme and Ann Marie Zapponi Ramme. Joan was the third of four daughters born to this Air Force family. She moved frequently throughout her childhood before settling in California. Joan earned her BA degree in sociology from Loyola University of Los Angeles in 1972, her MA in sociology from The Ohio State University in 1974, and her PhD in criminology, law and society at the University of California, Irvine in 1990. In 1974, Joan began her career as director of the Criminal Justice Program at the RAND Corporation. From 1992 to 2009, she served as Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine Joan spent the last decade of her life as the Albert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Stanford University. The outstanding students she mentored there continued to inspire her teaching and research. Joan produced award-winning criminological research that addressed problems in sentencing and corrections. Her body of work and sustained commitment to bringing social science research to bear on crime policy was heralded by scholars, government officials, and practitioners alike, and it earned her the 2014 Stockholm Prize in Criminology, arguably the most prestigious award in criminology. Joan also served as president of the American Society of Criminology in 1990. Joan was also passionate about helping people with developmental disabilities. In addition to research on how the criminal justice system impacts people with developmental disabilities, she actively supported organizations such as the Alpha Resource Center, Special Olympics, Fragile X Foundation, Path Point, and the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara. Above all, Joan was a devoted wife and mother. In Steve Thomas, she found a loving, supportive, faith-filled spouse and devoted stepfather to Jeff and Kyle. Her three “boys” were the light of her life. Joan is survived by her husband, Stephen Richard Thomas, her sons Jeffrey Ramme Petersilia and Kyle Gregory Petersilia, her two sisters Margaret (Peggy) Ann Johnson (Douglas), Jeanne Ramme Sydenstricker (Robert Michael), nephews Stephen Michael Sydenstricker and Brent Ramme Sydentstricker, nieces Lindsay Rosewater Sacco, Andrea Michelle Johnson and Stacy Johnson Kassover. Her sister, Patty Ramme Rosewater Kelly, preceded her in passing. She is also survived by her step-children, Rebecca Lynn Dunniway, Matthew Erech Thomas (Yesenia) and step-grandchildren Eric William Dunniway, Todd Stephen Dunniway, Sierra Kathryn Thomas, and Aidan Christopher Thomas. Joan was an active member of St. Athanasius Orthodox Church in Santa Barbara for many years. A private funeral will be held for immediate family. Remembrances may be made to Santa Barbara Special Olympics (281 Magnolia Ave Suite #200, Goleta, CA 93117), a group which held a special place in Joan’s heart.

Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Joan Petersilia Thomas January 2 1951 September 23 2019.

Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapels

Death notice for the town of: Santa Barbara, state: California

death notice Joan Petersilia Thomas January 2 1951 September 23 2019

obituary notice Joan Petersilia Thomas January 2 1951 September 23 2019

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4 Comments

  1. Joan’s passing will leave an empty space in so many lives. She and her work will be greatly missed.
    I was fortunate to briefly correspond with her over some prison issues and appreciated her insight and help.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Joan is deeply missed. She always helped our tiny Hawai‘i non-profit when we reached out for her advice with reserach and practial questions about our work. While some are too busy or important to help others, especially when the others are not well known and have nothing to offer in return but gratitude, Joan responded and did what she could. Please know that we personally will pass on her legacy for kindess and kokua (help in Hawaiian) when asked ❤️

  3. I worked with Joan off and on for the last 20 years at the State Legislature, the Department of Corrections, and as a joint expert for county jails and state prisons. She brought so much light and hope to so many. I loved Joan as a friend and as someone whom I could always rely on to step up to help those in need. My heart is broken today as I read this memory of her. I know I am only one of thousands of lives she touched and hundreds of thousands she helped guide to a better life. Via Con Dios Joan. You will always live in my heart. Mike. Brady

  4. I knew Joan since the 1980s when we met at RAND. We both ended up at Stanford about 15 years ago, and she was one of the most generous, giving, gracious, thoughtful, and smart people I’ve been fortunate to meet. This is such as loss for the field, and it is a loss for humankind–seriously. She was an absolute wonderful human being—kind, passionate about her work, willing to talk research and careers with anyone, and focused on having an impact.



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