‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Joan's visitation.

Joan Elizabeth Grabeel

Joan Elizabeth Grabeel, 69 of Athens, TN, passed away peacefully at home on April 5, 2019, surrounded by her family.  Born the eldest of five sisters in the Clearwater Community to William  Edward and Dortha Mae Key Hughes in 1949, she went to college and lived many years in Johnson City, TN, then Rogersville, TN where she met her husband Frank.  She was a nursing leader, serving our country in the Army Reserves. Later, she dedicated 30 years to public health service with the Tennessee State Department of Health, working as a Quality Assurance Cordinator for Southeast Region  in East TN until her retirement.

Joan curated a beautiful life of love, tradition, and antiques.  An avid gardener, she firmly believed there was always room for one more flowering shrub or architectural houseplant.  She loved people and their stories.  She enjoyed her pets, music, holidays, and family gatherings.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Dorotha Hughes, and sister Judi Hughes Watson. She is survived by her husband Frank Grabeel of Athens, TN; daughter Beth Womac Hatfield and granddaughter Grace Hatfield of Athens, TN; son Nathan Womac and daughter-in-law Dana Bramble of Rock Hill, SC, Dana’s daughters Kailye & Kara Birchfield; step-daughters Virginia (Jack) Copley of Charleston, W. V.  and Martha (Nathan) Carmley of Vonore, Tn. and granddaughter Grace Copley.  She is also survived by her sisters Mary Long of Morristown, TN, Ann (Russ) Parise of Kingsport, TN, Janice Crabtree of Athens, TN, and brother-in-law Don Watson of Sweetwater, TN in addition to nieces/nephews Jodi (Chad) Rose, Lori (Jason) Baumgardner, Casey (Emily) Long, Russell Long, Katie (Bryan) Walker, James Haren, John (Andrea) Haren, Andrew  Crabtree, and Betsy Crabtree.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to organizations closest  to Joan’s heart:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (stjude.org), American Cancer Society (cancer.org), and Shriner’s Hospitals (donate.lovetotherescue.org).
There will be a private graveside service with interment at Clearwater Cemetery in Athens, TN, Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Condelences may be sent to  www.laycockhobbs.com/notices/Joan-Grabeel.  Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home in Athens is in charge of the arrangements.

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Grabeel, please visit our flower store.


It has taken me a long time to write about Joan, and I know it is because I am so heartbroken at losing her. Joan was and will always be my Gold Standard. She was so incredibly kind and considerate to me at a period in my life when I was not doing well and so lost--Joan guided me with amazing skill and warmth. What a great blessing she was to me and I will never, ever forget her. How I cherished her and what a strong, beautiful Christian woman. What an inspiration to me. Joan, I know that God sent you to me, and I will always be so grateful for you. Oh dear Joan I love you so much and I am grateful that you are in heaven with all of the other saints--you were my saint.

Judy Vaughan Jul 10 2019 12:00 AM

Frank, I was most distressed on learning of Joan's passing. She was a great lady with a beautiful smile and a great neighbor. You have been in my prayers and will continue to be. If you need me for anything, don't hesitate to call.

Bill Sikes Apr 13 2019 12:00 AM

So sorry for the loss. I remember Joan's smile and encouraging words-RIP. Praying for the family...

Cora Thurman Apr 10 2019 12:00 AM

So sorry to hear this. I went to High School with Joan she was a wonderful person.

Margaret (Queen)Huckabey Apr 9 2019 12:00 AM

Joan was my friend, co-worker at Hawkins Co Health Dept, and fellow church member. We shared many good times. She had a beautiful smile. It was sad to hear this.

Kay Elkins Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and praying for your family.

Lori Madden Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

Really thought a lot of Joan, May God comfort you at this difficult time.

Brenda Harris Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

Joan was such a beautiful lady. I will always remember her beautiful smile and the laughter we have shared over the years. Sending prayers to Frank, Janice and family.
Jeannie Bentley

Jeannie Bentley Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

I took Joan's place as the QI Director for the Southeast Region. I knew I had big shoes to fill. She always had time to listen, a smile and a kind word, even when she wasn't feeling so well. I have tried to emulate her approach to this position and I still emphasize to those I audit, as she would,that I am here to help. I feel privileged to haveworked withher.

Melissa Britt Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

A candle was lit in memory of Joan Grabeel

Robin Moore Apr 8 2019 12:00 AM

Show More Entries