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Community mourns loss of JoAnn Delhart
Funeral held for wife of former mayor
JoAnn Delhart

The community of Ceres is mourning the death of JoAnn Delhart, who succumbed last week to heart problems she had suffered in recent months.

A funeral was held Friday.

Delhart and her husband, Jim, had for decades owned Delhart's Home Furnishings in downtown Ceres. From 1982 to 2000, she operated Joann's Restaurant south of Hatch Road in the building now home to Hot Rod Diner. After her retirement from the restaurant, JoAnn focused on ministries at their Modesto church, The House. She also accompanied Jim on five Christian missionary trips to Lithuania. She also appeared with her husband on an occasional Friday evening Bible program on KBSV, the local Ceres based Assyria Vision station.

Joann and Jim met at the Pentecostal church in Ceres in 1953 and were married for 65 years. After Jim, who was 17, and JoAnn, then 16, were married, he opened a used furniture store at Boulder and El Paso in south Modesto in 1953.

JoAnn was raised in a large and poor family. Born in Perry, Okla., as the sixth of seven girls of Loyd Buster Lee Nutt and Mary Alena Carl Nutt, JoAnn was moved to Oceanside and Carlsbad during World War II when she was about three years old. The Nutt family settled in the Modesto area where her father could return to farming. Tragedy struck the family when on Oct. 6, 1948, JoAnn's mother shot and killed Loyd. She was not convicted because of the abusive nature of the couple's relationship.

The couple experienced a series of heart-breaking losses as Jim and JoAnn tried to have children but ended up burying five of them. They were Rodney Lee, Feb. 22-23, 1956; Joshua David, Dec. 14, 1956; Joseph Preston, Jan. 18, 1958; and Scarlett Ann, Nov. 8, 1964. The couple was only able to conceive one child who lived to adulthood, Debra Delhart Kiss. An adopted son, Derrick Matthew Delhart, was born July 1, 1965.

Joann worked as a lab technician at General Foods plant west of Morgan Road before she decided to leave, selling Jafra cosmetics on her own.

She was considered a supportive spouse as Jim served two terms as mayor of Ceres.