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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

In Memoriam: Joan Whitney Whitcomb ’56

Joan Whitney Whitcomb ’56, a cherished alumna of Knox College and co-namesake of the Whitcomb Art Center, passed away peacefully on the morning of June 6, 2024.

Whitcomb graduated cum laude from Knox as one of the pioneering female business majors, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of women in the field. While attending the College, she met her husband, Dick Whitcomb '57, beginning a partnership that would span decades and leave a lasting legacy.

After graduation, she embarked on a successful career in banking in Chicago, showcasing her exceptional talents and dedication to her profession. With the start of her family in the mid to late 1960s, she chose to prioritize her role as a mother and homemaker, dedicating herself to nurturing and supporting her growing family.

Whitcomb remained actively engaged in her community, particularly in the vibrant Atlanta art scene. Her passion for the arts led her to volunteer her time and expertise, contributing to the cultural enrichment of her community for many years. She also devoted herself to various charitable endeavors, including promoting literacy through rural library campaigns to get books into the hands of underprivileged children. 

Together with her husband, Whitcomb made significant contributions to Knox College, demonstrating their shared commitment to supporting education and providing opportunities for future generations of students. They established endowed scholarship funds for Knox students in economics or business and management, empowering aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs. Their generosity extended beyond scholarship funds to contributions for the Whitcomb Art Center, Alumni Hall, and the Umbeck Science and Mathematics Center, transforming the campus landscape and enriching the academic experiences of countless students.

“Joan’s legacy as a trailblazer, philanthropist, and supporter of the arts continues to inspire and uplift those around her. Her contributions to Knox College are a testament to the values instilled by her liberal arts education, and we are profoundly thankful for the lasting impact she has made within our community,” Knox College President C. Andrew McGadney said. 

She will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her. Her legacy will live on through her contributions to education, the arts, and her unwavering dedication to her family and community.


Pictured above: Joan and Dick Whitcomb pose with Associate Vice President, Principal Gifts Mark Wilson at the Whitcomb Art Center dedication ceremony. 

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Printed on Monday, July 22, 2024