Joan Sather, a beloved longtime resident and a popular realtor with Sotheby’s, passed away on Sunday, March 13. She passed after bravely battling ovarian cancer, which unfortunately took her away from us too soon. Her husband Kent said that even in the hospital, she was answering real estate questions for clients and providing nurses information on potential neighborhoods.
Always active in Pacific Palisades, Joan sponsored the Fourth of July Home Decorating Contest from 2010 onward. She told Circling the News last year, “When I attended my first PAPA (Palisades Americanism Parade Association) meeting 11 years ago, I had no idea I would enjoy it so much and be so involved for so long.”
She said her favorite part of the contest was visiting the houses for the final judging on July 3. During these visits she was joined by the yearly honorary mayors which included Jake Seinfeld, Kevin Nealon, Janice and Billy Crystal, and Eugene Levy. “All of the judges are terrific and very funny!”
Roberta Donohue, former publisher of the Palisadian-Post, praised Joan as “a fun lady to work with and one of the great realtors in the Palisades. She was also a wonderful contributor to the Woman’s Club home tour booklet.”
The daughter of a Naval officer, Joan lived all over the United States, including Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island and San Diego. She also lived overseas in France for three years where she became fluent in French. She attended five elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools and Sweet Briar College before graduating from UC Berkeley.
She met her husband Kent in San Francisco and they moved to an apartment in Brentwood. Through friends, they heard about Pacific Palisades and started house hunting. “We looked for quite a while before we found something we could afford in the Marquez Knolls area,” said Joan, who was pregnant with their first child, daughter Kelly. A major drawback was a long set of stairs to climb to reach the home, but this experience helped Joan develop the buying philosophy she later shared with real estate clients.
“There were more things about the house we liked than we didn’t like, including the floor plan and the square footage,” Joan said. “Even looking at a $10 million home, you won’t find a totally perfect house. You have to decide where you are willing to compromise.”
After they lived in the Palisades for almost a year, Kent accepted a job with a real estate developer in Arizona. They went to look at houses in Arizona and Kent asked Joan, “Which one do you want to put an offer on?” Joan replied, “I don’t want to make an offer. I don’t want to leave the Palisades.”
She later said she didn’t think about her response. “It just came out of my heart. After moving around so much as a kid, I wanted to stay here in the Palisades.”
Praising her husband, Joan said Kent responded by saying, “Guess I’ll have to quit my job and come back to L.A.” He soon joined a real estate development company in L.A., and by the time their son Peter was born, they realized they needed a more family-friendly house. They bought a home in the Huntington Palisades, where Joan would one day serve as president of the homeowners association.
When her two kids were older, Joan earned an MBA at Loyola Marymount at night, and became a realtor with Jon Douglas in his Palisades office in 1988. She later said, “With an MBA in hand, the more flexible hours of real estate seemed a better fit for a family than a corporate setting.”
Over the years, Joan and Kent traveled the world together. In 2013, she told Post editor Bill Bruns, “When we married, Kent had never traveled farther from his home in Marin County than to visit his aunt in San Diego. He was so interested in my stories about traveling that we have spent most of our married life making up for it. We spent our honeymoon in Europe, and we have bicycled throughout Europe and Asia, snorkeled in New Guinea, and climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro and Mt. Fuji.” Just last year, Joan and Kent returned to Paris for a famous art installation.
Said Bruns, “Joan was strong and vivacious, and a talented writer. I enjoyed publishing various stories that she submitted to the Post about her travels and the real estate business.”
In 2014, Joan brought her labradoodle Cooper to the Palisades library for a new children’s reading program called Bark. She also worked with John Muir students as a reading counselor, and she was always accompanied by Cooper, whom the children adored.
Susan Montgomery, Joan’s associate at Sotheby’s, said, “As a longtime friend and colleague, I, along with so many others, mourn the sudden passing of our beloved Joan. She traveled the world often with great enthusiasm, loved her family, her career in finding people their forever homes, and our community with all her heart.
“Always up for a challenge, Joan volunteered for many local events, including spearheading our annual Home Decorating Contest for the Fourth of July. I was thrilled to partner with her for this festive occasion for several years. The PAPA committee and I will feel her absence in perpetuity and will honor her contributions going forward. She was such a bright spark in this world and touched the lives of so many.”
In addition to her husband Kent, Joan is survived by her children, Kelly and Peter, and six grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in June.