Joan Walsh, 90, left this Earth she loved so much Sept. 30 after a courageous battle with dementia. She died surrounded by her eight children, many of her 18 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and her tender caregivers, with a breeze in her face and her room filled with light reflecting off the Shrewsbury River.
Joan, an Irish-Spanish beauty, was born in Brooklyn Oct. 31, 1927 to Peter Galtes and Mary Cozine. She has a brother Peter and a sister Noreen (deceased). She went to Catholic schools and church in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in Flatbush. Joan attended Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut and married Jack Walsh of Brooklyn.
Over the years the couple lived in Brooklyn, Long Island, Lincroft and Rumson. They had eight children: Patty, Joanie, Michael, Jackie, Carol, Janet, Kevin and John. In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Joan took care of the house and children while Jack went to work as a lawyer at Merck, Sharpe and Dohme. She cooked 36,527 meals, washed 360,242 dishes and cleaned innumerable fingers and faces – all without complaint. She gave her children tons of freedom and helped teach them to swim, read, cook and be good to each other. She encouraged us all to get an education and to be independent. We all are able to do a lot as adults and it’s due to Mom and Dad. The house was busy, fun, full of people and happy (for most of the time).
After Dad died in 1982, Mom went to work at Fort Monmouth, climbed the civilian Army ladder and ended up going to the Middle East as a representative of the Army, where she helped with the sale of radio parts. She invested brilliantly and became a local investment guru. When she spoke, people listened.
She volunteered throughout her life. For example, for many years she cooked and served fantastic Wednesday meals to people with HIV/AIDs at The Center in Asbury Park with Father Bob. She became a Master gardener and enjoyed improving the perennials, stream and two coy ponds in her Fair Haven backyard. She traveled far and wide with great curiosity and wonder to Alaska, China, Africa and Europe. She was an avid bridge player and enjoyed competing in bridge tournaments.
“Joan was a caring and giving person,” her sweet 12-year-old friend, Keira, said this week. She helped create a fun neighborhood in Rumson that allowed her children to run, build, catch minnows, read, play field sports and adopt lost animals. We loved dinners around the big table and her Sunday French toast or pancakes and bacon. The smell of it will always take us back to our home, circa 1971. Mom, with her beautiful hair and red lipstick and pants that showed off her ankles, flipping pancakes to classical music or Led Zeppelin, as her children wandered in and out, set the table, spilled the juice, argued, laughed and finally sat down all together at our long dinette table, sunlight streaming in the bay window, to begin days we never imagined would ever, ever end.
Joan is survived by her children, their spouses, and their significant others: Patricia and John DeVries, Joan and Dan Lowry, Michael and Kathleen Walsh, Jacqueline Walsh and Graham Warder, Carol Schanz (Gerald Schanz passed in 2015), Janet and Stephen Burpee, Kevin Walsh and Barbara Fers, and Jack Walsh; her grandchildren, Beth Bamford (Chris Bamford passed in 2016), John and Jessica DeVries, Nicholas and Chrissy DeVries, Caitlin and Brian Lowry, Ryan, Kevin and Claire Walsh, Molly and Casey Walsh-Warder, Olivia, Jeremy, Michael and Lionel Schanz, Abigail, Jacqueline, Catherine and Madeline Burpee; four great-grandchildren, Finnigan, Oliver, Lucy and Elouise; several nieces and nephews; and two sisters-in-law.
The family held a celebration in Joan’s memory Oct. 5 at the Church of the Precious Blood in Monmouth Beach. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Father Bob Kaeding. Interment of Joan’s ashes at Jack’s grave followed at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Middletown. A reception followed at her son and daughter-in-law Michael and Kathleen Walsh’s home in Fair Haven.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Center in Asbury Park, 806 Third Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712 or at thecenterinap.org.
The Thompson Memorial Home, Red Bank, was entrusted with the arrangements.
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