Cover photo for Joan Millicent Bryan Wilcox's Obituary
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1936 Joan Millicent Bryan Wilcox 2024

Joan Millicent Bryan Wilcox

June 21, 1936 — May 4, 2024


The journey of life undertaken by Dr. Joan Millicent Bryan Wilcox, began in Savannah, Georgia on Father’s Day, June 21, 1936 and ended on May 4, 2024.

The second child of three (Sylvester, Joan and Sandra) born to Sylvester J. Bryan Sr., and Nancy Verdier Bryan, Joan received her primary education at St Benedict’s Catholic School and her secondary education at Alfred E. Beach High School.  She, along with her family, was a member of St. Benedict’s Catholic Church.  She was baptized, confirmed and ultimately married at St. Benedict’s.

When Joan was 11 years old, she lost her beloved father who had instilled in her and her siblings a thirst and respect for education.  His lessons and ‘famous lectures’ on education would come to fruition in her future.

Upon graduation from high school, Joan attended Talladega College in Alabama on a full scholarship and with the support of her older brother, Syl.  She graduated in June 1957.  That same week, she married her childhood sweetheart, Walter Wilcox Jr.   She and Walter embarked on his military career which to them to Virginia, New Jersey and ultimately Heidelberg, Germany.  Along the way, Joan pursued her career as an elementary teacher.  Over the years, they were blessed with three children:   Shelley Marie, Shannon Michelle, Walter Clifford.  The children grew up in Germany, although unfortunately the marriage was dissolved.   Despite this, it was clear that Walter had been the “love of my life.”

Meeting her father’s expectations, Joan ultimately received the Master’s Degree from Boston University and earned the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from Iowa State University in 1995.   Her career blossomed in the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)/European Region, and she quickly ascended the administrative chain serving as Assistant Principal, Principal, Assistant Superintendent and ultimately Superintendent of the Heidelberg, Germany District.  Along the way she was recognized for her leadership and the attainment of excellence in her work.  She was selected as PTA Administrator of the Year, National Distinguished Principal (1987), Germany Principal of the Year (1992 and 1993), and Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) Superintendent of the Year (1999).  In 2000, she retired and returned to the United States serve as a Cluster Director (community superintendent) for the prestigious Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia.  She served in this capacity for three years where she successful administered and was responsible for twenty-three high achieving schools.

During her thirty-year tenure in Europe, Joan enjoyed traveling to many European countries.   She became a member of Delta Sigma Theta’s Germany chapter while in Europe.  To her father’s delight, we can agree that Joan led a productive and exemplary life apply his long-ago lectures to her achievements.  She retired to Odenton, Maryland in 2006, however an opportunity to travel to the Middle East as an education consultant to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar.

Her very vibrant life’s journey came to an end on Saturday, May 4, 2024.  Mourning her departure, but celebrating her life are daughters Shelley Marie Bazemore of Odenton, Maryland; Shannon Michelle Schmidt and her husband Joseph of Manassas, Virginia; son, Walter Clifford Wilcox of Odenton, Maryland; grandchildren Robert Bazemore, Ashton Schmidt, Ian Schmidt, and Creslin Wilcox; brother Dr. Sylvester Bryan and his wife Margaret of Fresno, California.   They are joined by many beloved nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

In memory of Joan, the family respectfully requests donations to the Hospice of the Chesapeake that provided compassionate and professional services during her final years.   Donations can be made online:, or mailed to:   Hospice of the Chesapeake, 90 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, MD 21122.  In the coming months, Joan will be laid to rest at the feet of her beloved father in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia.  

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Millicent Bryan Wilcox, please visit our flower store.


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