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Obituaries » Joan Evans Semple

Joan Evans Semple, 91, of Warrenton, passed away on March 6, 2018, after a long battle with complications following a stroke.

Born in Philadelphia, she spent her early years in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. At age 5 she contracted polio and, while this might be a disability to some, she walked courageously through life, never letting that slow her down and demonstrating to all that knew her that life was full of limitless possibilities.

Mrs. Semple attended the George School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and later earned her bachelor’s degree in landscape horticulture from Pennsylvania State University. It was there that she met her husband, John Brooks Semple, and where their love story began. They were married September 10, 1949. She shared his love of travel, sailing and farming, eventually settling in Warrenton in 1976.

For four decades, Mrs. Semple worked as a licensed landscape architect and supervised the family’s commercial holly growing business at Suffield Farm. Their holly trees adorn the grounds of the White House, Arlington National Cemetery and the National Museum of the American Indian, as well as many other federal and state grounds. In addition, Suffield hollies can be found in Colonial Williamsburg and many estates and homes surrounding Fauquier County.

While heavily involved in her community and in horticulture, Mrs. Semple also raised four sons. She was known to say that living with Brooks and the “boys” was “like living on the edge of a volcano.” Mrs. Semple was an active member of the Warrenton Antiquarian Society and was involved with scheduling tours and activities at Weston in Casanova. She was a longtime member of the Warrenton Garden Club and a past president. She was also a member of Christ Church in Warrenton. Her work ethic and never-give-up attitude inspired others to give their all. Mrs. Semple enjoyed entertaining, reading and was an avid gardener. A friend to all, she touched many lives over her lifetime and left her indelible mark on her community.

Survivors include her husband of 68 years, J. Brooks Semple of Warrenton; her sons, Charles B. Semple and wife Carol of Boulder, Colorado, Barry S. Semple and wife Lynn of Boise, Idaho, Andrew D. Semple and wife Shannon of New Bern, North Carolina, and Stephen H. Semple of Warrenton, and her sister, Gretchen S. Rogovin of Ibiza, Spain, and Iowa City, Iowa. She cherished her eight grandchildren. Mrs. Semple also enjoyed seven great-grandchildren and was blessed with numerous nieces and nephews, whom she loved dearly.

She was predeceased by her brother, C. Scott Seltzer, of Rose Valley, Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Semple stood as a shining example of perseverance and determination for all. Never deterred in her desire to live life to its fullest, she led by example, showing her friends and family that life was full of joy and challenges and all should be met head-on. She is surely dancing in Heaven, unencumbered by braces and wheelchairs and tending to God’s heavenly garden.

The service will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Christ Church in Warrenton.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Church, 95 Green Street, Warrenton, Virginia 20186, or to the charity of one’s choice.

Online condolences may be offered at
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BJ · March 15, 2018 at 4:29 pm
Such a sweet and welcoming lady! She will be missed by many.
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