Associate Writing Professor and UCA Core Director Joanna Castner Post, 43, died March 13 after a heart attack left her hospitalized at Conway Regional Hospital.
Associate Writing Professor Francie Bolter, a colleague and close friend of Post, said Post had actually gone out to eat with her and two other professors earlier that same day.
“She was telling us all about her plans,” Bolter said. “We were just laughing, talking and then that night, she had an ‘electrical event’. That’s how the cardiologist described it.”
Bolter said Post’s husband awoke to strange breathing noises and was unable to wake his wife. He called 911 and Post was taken to Conway Regional.
“They took her off the machines on Thursday,” Bolter said, adding that doctors had to decide whether or not to take her off of life support.
Bolter said Post was placed under hypothermic therapy to reduce any futher brain damage, but the procedure could not stop her brain seizures — a symptom of severe brain injury.
Post was cremated and a burial memorial service was held at the Okmulgee Cemetary in Okmulgee, Okla. on March 15.
Bolter was one of a group of individuals who planned the memorial service for Post held at 4 p.m. yesterday at the UCA ampitheater.
“We wanted it to be a memorial celebration so we tried to get a chocolate fountain because [Post] was a truly a ‘chocaholic’,” Bolter said.
After a musical prelude by Guitar Instructor Smokey Emerson, Writing Department Chair Scott Payne welcomed attendees while providing a brief biography of Post.
Lynn Burley, Laura Bowles and other faculty members shared memories of their time with Post, as did several students.
Bolter said she was saw a quote concerning “active happiness” and said she couldn’t think of a better way to describe Post’s personality.
“It just came off of her,” she said. “Just this amazing, positive energy.”
Burley, another collegue and close friend of Post, agreed with Bolter’s comment about “active happiness”, calling Post “bubbly” and “enthusiastic”.
“‘Workaholic’ isn’t quite the right word because that sounds like a negative and [Post] was anything but negative,” Burley said. “She gave her all all the time and was happy about it.”
Burley and Bolter described Post as extremely supportive of both students and other faculty members.
Both professors also spoke highly of Post’s determination and skill in the workplace, both saying they could easily see her climbing to the top of the administrative ladder.
Post nominated senior Jordan King this semester for the College of Fine Arts and Communication Outstanding Student Award.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Joanna for more than three years,” King said. “She was my boss while I was a UCA Writing Center tutor, my academic adviser for the longest time, my internship advisor last semester and — all college aside — my very dear friend.”
King described Post as having a “truly beautiful sense of optimism,” citing a previous experience where Post encouraged him to sell an idea to Starbucks Coffee.
“One of Joann’s greatest gifts was that she believed with all the sincerity in the world that her students could achieve that seemed impossible,” he said. “Her passing leaves more than just an empty office in Thompson — she’s one of those people you can never replace.”
Senior Darby Rogers said she met Post in the writing department after deciding her previous minor was not for her.
“Dr. Post was the one who met with me and helped me get organized when I felt completely overwhelmed,” Rogers said, adding that she never saw Post in a bad mood.
Senior Spencer Smith said Post was the epitome of vibrance and life. “She brought out the ‘good juju,’ as she would call it, in everyone,” Smith said. “Her smile was infectious and her personality was brimming with energy. There was no stoppping or slowing down Joanna. I think that’s how I will always remember her — as an indomitable spirit.”
In light of her death, the UCA writing department is establishing a Joanna Castner Post Memorial Scholarship.
The Writing Center has created a Heifer International “Send a Girl to School” fund in Post’s memory.
Go to teamheifer.heifer.org/forjoanna to donate.
Details concerning the pending memorial scholarship have yet to be officially decided.