Joan Sidders Valdez, retired social worker

Joan S. Valdez was a social worker for 28 years at the facility.
Joan S. Valdez was a social worker for 28 years at the facility.
Posted: April 02, 2014

Joan Sidders Valdez, 73, of Sicklerville, who retired in 1999 after 28 years as a social worker at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital, died of cardiac arrest Thursday, March 27, at Virtua Marlton.

Mrs. Valdez's work in mental health did not end when her Ancora career did, a colleague, Carol Weiss, said in an interview.

"She was extremely active" with the nonprofit organization NJ Partners: Aging, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Inc., Weiss said.

Its website states that it was founded to focus "on the needs of older adults with a mental health or substance abuse problem."

Weiss, one of its founders in 1999, said Mrs. Valdez began working with the group soon after it began.

Among other efforts, she said, Mrs. Valdez returned from divisional meetings of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors to report on the expertise that she had found there.

For NJ Partners, Weiss said, Mrs. Valdez "did just about anything that anybody needed that didn't require a computer."

Mrs. Valdez grew up in West Philadelphia, graduated from Overbrook High School, and earned a bachelor's degree at the former National College for Christian Workers in Kansas City, Mo., and a master's in social work at the University of Pennsylvania.

She began her career in the 1960s at Norristown State Hospital while working for her master's at Penn, a sister, Nana Sidders, said.

"She would work one week; another week she could be studying" at Penn, Sidders said.

After working at a hospital in Whittier, Calif., she returned to begin her career at Ancora in 1971.

The attraction of such work, Sidders said, was "to serve people who couldn't help themselves - the mentally ill and their families."

In retirement, Mrs. Valdez stayed active at Ancora, working as a chapel volunteer for 12 years.

"She would get the people from the different wards and bring them to the chapel" for Tuesday services led by ministers from a variety of denominations, Sidders said.

"She would assist the pastors in many ways," from setting up the chapel to inviting guest speakers.

Mrs. Valdez was a charter member at the 1996 founding of Victory Bible Church in Hammonton, N.J., and a captain of its tract team, which distributed explanations of the evangelical church's teachings at public places, Sidders said.

Besides her sister, Mrs. Valdez is survived by daughter Genevieve Palomo; a brother; a sister; and her former husband, Manny.

A viewing was set from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Victory Bible Church, 816 S. Egg Harbor Rd., Hammonton, N.J. 08037, before a 7 p.m. service there, with private burial.

Donations may be sent to Victory Bible Church at the address above or

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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