Honoring One of Our Founders: Joanne Zinsmeister-Yarwood


Hospice of Central New York is deeply saddened by the passing of Joanne Zinsmeister-Yarwood. Joanne actively supported Hospice from its inception up until her death on August 3rd. As a Board Member of the Syracuse Home Association, Joanne became aware that more needed to be done for dying patients and their families. Though there were many physicians at the time that were not in support of hospice, Joanne was drawn to those in the medical profession that were making efforts to develop a change away from the fear of death. After growing up on a farm, surviving the Great Depression and World War II, and raising five children Joanne knew how to persevere. She was part of the Hospice Development Task Force that worked to secure Medicare certification in 1985.

Joanne participated on either the Hospice of CNY or the Hospice Foundation of CNY Boards (including membership on the very first Board of Directors of the Foundation in 1994) until 2005, when she became a member emerita. Just as she thrived in school as the class valedictorian, she was diligent in her responsibilities as a Board Member. Despite physical limitations resulting from a long-term illness preventing her from regularly attending meetings, Joanne could still be seen at some of our Annual Meetings and September Song Galas. She loved being a part of our celebrations. Joanne never tired of hearing about what was going on at Hospice and was very proud of her contributions as she truly valued the work of Hospice of CNY.

Joanne was also very generous in her financial support of Hospice of CNY. Her contributions included a lead gift to the Home for Hospice Campaign in 1994 in memory of her husband, Walter Zinsmeister, and an additional gift to the Campaign in 1997. She donated a substantial amount of money to provide laptop computers to all of the direct service staff in 2005. She supported our September Song Gala for many years and also made a substantial end-of-year gift annually. Her steadfast support spanned for over 36 years as she and her second husband, Dr. Edwin Yarwood, continued to give generously year in and year out.

Joanne will be remembered by her family and friends for many things, but they feel that “her ability to love and reinforce others, empowering them with a primal confidence that there is someone who will always adore and support them, come what may, was Joanne’s finest gift”. At Hospice of CNY, we know for certain that she loved and reinforced others in our community with her commitment to the patients and families that we serve. Joanne’s efforts and financial contributions are a legacy here at Hospice, and that legacy will benefit future patients and families for many years to come. We are honored and grateful for her service and support.