Joanne D. Denko is a psychiatrist who uses whatever method is appropriate for the given patient. She has practiced for 40 years and taught residents. During this time she has also written both books and professional journal articles. The book topics include envy, adolescent alcoholism, psychopathic personality, biography (of her late husband), a study of members of the Mensa Society, and two volumes of poetry (one on nature, the other on the mother/child relationship). Journal article topics include mental illness in primitive peoples, klismaphilia, and managing a home and a practice simultaneously.
Joanne is also a board member of the Cleveland Astronomical Society and a member of the Saints Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church of Lakewood, Ohio, of Kiwanis International, and previously of the Cleveland Psychiatric Society. She is the widow of the late Charles W. Denko, Ph.D., M.D. and the mother of three children, Christopher, Nicholas, and Timothey. A dedicated individual, Dr. Denko prides herself on her eclectic treatment of her patients and wishes to be remembered by the many words, thoughts and feelings she has put to paper.
Joanne Denko was born Joanne Decker on March 29, 1927, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, although her parents actually lived in Chicago at the time of her birth, Joanne’s mother, Marian Decker, insisted that a Dr. Boys, a surgeon whom Marian had assisted in nurse’s training in Kalamazoo, deliver Joanne. Joanne’s father, John Decker, was a self-employed business entrepreneur and saleman. An only child, Joanne received the full attention of her parents who held high standards for Joanne’s academic career; her mother in particular, one of Joanne’s biggest influences, was adamant about her attending college long before Joanne even knew what college was. Crediting her parents loving strictness, Joanne recalls activities such as swimming with her mother in Lake Michigan and playing with her dog Mitzi as some of her fondest childhood memories.
Joanne attended Benton Harbor High School in Benton Harbor, Michigan where her favorite subjects included literature before her shift in attention to the sciences. In highschool Joanne met Edith Hogue Kendall, Joanne’s English teacher and German tutor, an individual who influenced the rest of Joanne’s life. Throughout high school Joanne enjoyed participating in the school’s drama and yearbook clubs as well as the school debate team. She graduated as valedictorian of her class, and gave a valedictory entitled “The Fourth Freedom: Freedom from fear,” a reference to FDR’s famous speech, “The Four Freedoms.” After graduating, Joanne attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, 60 miles away home.
At Hope College, Joanne settled on a major in chemistry, as the best preparation for medicine, with a minor in both biology, German, and Greek. She also continued she interest in debate and drama in on campus. Joanne never doubted the significance of higher education viewing history, philosophy and literature as the way to understand our western culture. Her parents, who paid Joanne’s way thru college and medical school clearly felt the same way. Joanne graduated from Hope College with a B.A., Summa Cum Lande. She attended Johns Hopkins University College of Medicine, where she earned her M.D. and met her future Husband, Charles Denko. Joanne went on to receive an M.S. in Psychiatry from the University of Michigan. She began her medical training at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, with an internship, then spent a year in its pathology residency program. Dr. Denko also spent several years in radiation research at the Fermi Laboratory of the University of Chicago, then two years of residency in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and a final year in residency in psychiatry in Ohio State University.
Joanne went into the practice of psychiatry, and became a self-employed Psychiatrist, an experience that provided much material for her simultaneous career as an accomplished writer. As a psychiatrist, Dr.Denko was determined to help her patients become more mature in their ability to handle the ailments and live up to their potential. She even recalls the humbling experience of strangers thanking her for her help with their relatives. While she was always happy with her choice of Psychiatry for her career, one factor in this choice was that psychiatry interacted with the humanities. She pursued her interest in History, Literature and Philosophy, by participating in, and leading a Great Books discussion for 40 years.
Joanne married Charles Denko while they both attended Johns Hopkins Medical School. Already an accomplished Bio-chemist, Charles admired her ambition in the sciences and lent his support and encouragement, teaching her how to compose scientific papers properly. Charles was the greatest influence on Joanne’s career, as a mother Dr. Denko held high but realistic expectations for her three children, following in her own parent’s footsteps. She encouraged her children to attempt to solve problems on their own before stepping in to assist them. Joanne herself taught her children grammar and diagramming, as well as taking them along to various recreational activities such as classes in French and Russian, Bible school, nature and drama classes. These activities Joanne deemed enriching for her children’s education.
Joanne and Charles also enjoyed a great deal of traveling together, destinations including camping up and down the Alcan Highway, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and Siberia’s Lake Baikal. They also made many trips to encounter wildlife, like visiting baby seals along the icy Saint Lawrence River, Gorillas in Central Africa, Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, and Penguins in Antarctica, sometimes taking one or more sons who are old enough to appreciate it. Most recently Joanne has continued her travels by taking her grandchildren to locations within the Africa Continent, Alaska, and the Galapagos Islands.
The passing of Charles after a long illness was a sorrow to Joanne and her children. Following Charles’ death Joanne wrote and published The Life of Charles W. Denko, Ph.D. ,M.D. so the memories would not be lost.
In her free time Dr. Denko enjoys writing poetry, live drama, traveling, astronomy, and reading world classics such as Galileo’s Dialogue of the Two World Systems and Copernicus On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies. An advocate for the appreciation of nature, Dr. Denko believes that many people fail to see the beauties of the world around them. She continues to encourage others to expand their own horizons and take interest in the many wonders that the world has to offer.
Below is a complete list of the published works Dr. Joanne D. Denko:
- The Psychiatric Aspects of Idiopathic Hypoparathyroidism
- Through the Keyhole at Gifted Men and Women: A Study of 159 Members of the Mensa Society
- The Life of Charles W. Denko, Ph.D., M.D.
Below is a list of works written under Dr. Denko’s penname, Victoria Greenleaf, M.D., M.S.
- A Handful of Ashes: One Mother’s Tragedy
- Into a Mirror and Through a Lens : Forty Poems on the Mother/Child Relationship from Conception to Marriage
- Interlink: and Other Nature/Humankind Poems
- Fighting the Good Fight: One family’s Struggle Against Adolescent Alcoholism
- Envy: A Survey of its Psychology and History