Joan Irene (Knotts) McNelly 1931 - 2021

The fourth of seven daughters, Joan Irene (Knotts) McNelly was born January 21, 1931, to Everett D. and Rebecca Knotts in Des Moines, Iowa.

Joan attended Howe Grade School and Lincoln High School in Des Moines. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Portland, Oregon, in June 1948. It was at Roosevelt High School where she met her sweetheart, Bernard G. McNelly. After graduation, Joan worked as a telephone operator in downtown Portland. On April 29, 1949, the high school sweethearts, Berne and Joan, were married. Together they raised five children.

Joan had a beautiful voice and loved to sing for the Lord. She was also a talented artist. She liked to travel, which was a good thing as she moved many times with her husband who worked for Rock Island Railroad. In 1959, the family moved back to Portland.

In 1990-1991, both Berne and Joan went to Saijo and Kawanoe, Shikoku, Japan, as missionaries teaching English and leading worship for the CMA churches. After returning from Japan, they both attended George Fox College to study the Japanese language.

Joan was also a member of the Rural Homemakers Club for several years.

Joan accepted Jesus as her Savior as a child and never left her faith. She raised her children in the ways of the Lord. She was an active and dedicated member of Christian Gospel Assemblies, which was founded by her parents. Joan loved going to the beach retreats with her sisters and friends and the goofy times they had together. She was a prayer warrior and would pray for and encourage her friends and family and expressed the love of God to each one. She had a deep affection for others and kept each and every card she received as her treasures.

On February 1, 2021, at 90 years and 11 days young, Joan Irene (Knotts) McNelly passed on to her heavenly home to be with Jesus.

She is survived by her husband of 72 years, Berne; children, Joe and Ako of Plains, Montana, Terry and Heidi of Newberg, Cindy and Jim Blake of Canby, Sue and Craig Hinrichs of Terrebonne, and Mark of Newberg; 11 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; and one sister, Ruth Gillaspie of Newberg. She was preceded in death by her father and mother; five sisters; and one grandson.

She is greatly missed by all! To leave online condolences, please visit



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