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Joan E. Richards

Joan E. Richards, 83, of High Street, Ipswich, wife of the late Dr. Harry I. Zeltzer died Friday December 16, 2022 in Gloucester following an extended illness.

Born in Sanford Maine on March 9, 1939, she was the daughter of the late George C. Richards and Barbara (Senior) Richards. Joan was a graduate of North Shore Community College and graduated in 1972 from Salem State College with a BA in nursing.  She practiced woman’s health issues at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Preterm Institute and Beth Israel Hospital.  In 1975 she attended Midwifery College at the State University of NY graduating in 1976.  During the years Joan volunteered with Volunteer Services for Humanity International (VOSH), Indian Health Services (AZ), National Family Integration and Development System (DIF), where she provided midwifery and gynecology services.  She traveled to places such as Mexico, Pakistan, Chinle AZ, and Guatemala providing prenatal care, childbirth classes and deliveries. Joan, along with fellow Midwife colleague Fran Ventre, worked tirelessly to support women and families, so they could have an important choice between having a home or hospital birth.  So, in 1980, Joan and Fran, Certified Nurse Midwives, (CNM) opened the North Shore Birth Center on the campus of Beverly Hospital.  Joan was a true Pioneer in local Midwifery. She worked at the birth center for twenty-five years until her retirement.  Joan dedicated her life’s work to women’s health matters. Joan and Harry had a diverse group of friends and were well known in the community. Joan accompanied her husband to Third World countries to assist him in his efforts to facilitate eye care to those in need. They collected eyeglasses to take with them and frequently lived in spartan conditions to do their work.

Joan also had a love of outdoor life. She visited her family cabin in Maine every summer and enjoyed hiking and biking. Joan was a conscientious member of the Myopia Driving Club and served as president for two years. She was also a member of The Old Peoples Riding Club, and an enthusiastic participant in local organized trail rides as well as GMHA rides in S. Woodstock Vermont. She and her horses, Anna Basque and Garcia, were often seen in many a parade in Ipswich.  She loved all animals and enjoyed her pet dogs and cat.  Joan loved history and classical music, the arts and antiques.  She owned the Baker Sutton House and Antique store in Ipswich. Her free spirit made every moment with her special and fun.  She will be missed by all who loved her

She is survived by her son, Bradford J. Kelly and his wife Tracy of Tampa Florida, four grandchildren, Richard Kelly and his wife Rachel, Katherine Kelly Vasquez, Alexander Kelly and Edward Kelly, five great-grandchildren, Olivia Kelly, Avery Kelly, Aiden Kelly, Adella Vasquez and Caydence Vasquez, a brother, George C. Richards and his wife Katherine of Largo, FL, a sister, Jean Partin of NH, three nephews, and step children Lauren Zeltzer of ME and Darryl Zeltzer of Manchester-by-the-Sea. In addition to her late husband Harry I. Zeltzer of thirty-eight years she was predeceased by two sons, Steven C. Kelly and Thomas P. Kelly.

Private funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.


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