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Life Story / Obituary
A woman who was content in all things, Joan Patrick was genuine, sweet, and kindhearted with a gentle spirit. She was never one to let challenges get the best of her, and she was filled with a courageous spirit that was an inspiration to all who were near. A loving wife and devoted mother, Joan was filled with unspeakable joy to witness her family tree blossom to include the grandsons who were the light of her life. She was bubbly and happy with a contagious zest for life that made her such a joy to be around. Joan will be deeply missed while her memory remains forever near and dear to the hearts and lives of her many friends and loved ones.
The 1930s were very much defined by the dark days of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and there was little hope of relief in sight when a relentless drought in the nation’s heartland only caused things go from bad to worse. There was strength to be found, however, as cities, communities, and families came together to weather the storm in any way they could. It was during this eventful time that a young couple from Steubenville, Ohio, was able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they welcomed a baby girl into their hearts and home on February 15, 1936. Joan Veronica was one of two daughters born to her parents, Thomas and Mary (Shavinsky) Burke, and she was raised in the family home alongside her sister, Mary, who was nine years her senior. Joan was born legally deaf and wasn’t able to hear high pitched sounds.
In many ways Joan experienced a childhood that was typical for the youth of her generation. Her father worked for a local steel mill while her mother was a dedicated homemaker. Joan moved around rather frequently with her family due to her father’s work. She loved listening to music with only one volume that would do - loud - and she also liked to play and mix sounds much like a disc jockey. Her family dubbed her "Hi-Fi Joan" for her love of music. Because she contracted tuberculosis as a child, Joan often fell behind in school. Despite struggling to make it through, she went on to graduate from St. Michael's High School in Cleveland.
New and exciting changes were in store for Joan when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was John Patrick, and they met at a dance. It took him eight years to persuade Joan to see him, but once she did it didn’t take long for true love to take root. John loved to dote over her throughout her entire life, and while dating he always came with a gift for her. Joan was very close to her mother and the two could talk about anything, so it isn’t surprising that her mother told Joan to marry John, especially because he had a good job with General Motors. She heeded her mother’s advice, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Joan and John were married on January 23, 1960, in Cleveland.
After a honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the newlyweds settled into their new roles together as young newlyweds. Although John moved to the GM plant in Comstock in 1967, they never actually moved since moving around so much while growing up made Joan unwilling to move as an adult. Together they were blessed to welcome the birth of their daughter, Mary, in 1968.
In addition to caring for her family, Joan spent some time in the workforce. Her working days began while in high school when she took at job at Radarack. Joan remained there until just a short time after graduating, and at that time she spent 8 years working for the City of Cleveland Police Department. Following her time there, she would send Christmas cards to the former Chief of Police and her boss, Mr. Snyder for 30 years. Once they moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, she never worked outside of the home again. Although it was a difficult transition for Joan to leave her longtime home, she did manage to find her way once in Michigan.
There were numerous things that Joan enjoyed through the years. During her younger years she loved going to K-Wings games and made it to several games during the 1970s and 1980s. She liked to eat out, and when they were young she and John also went out to do some ballroom dancing. As an Elvis fan she went to see him in person, however, she wasn’t really able to hear much of his performance because of all the screaming and yelling that was going on around her! When relaxing at home, watching some of her favorite television shows often kept her busy, and she liked some of the newer classics like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Sanford and Son. Joan’s favorite movie was Wizard of Oz, and she actually loved it so much that she could quote every line.
First and foremost in Joan’s life was always those who meant the most to her. She was thrilled to become a grandmother to her two grandsons, and it was easy to see that she truly adored both Joseph and John. Joan didn’t hesitate to do what they were into as she was even known to play ball with them. Christmas was the perfect opportunity to spoil them as she lavished them with so many presents that it took over two hours just to open everything that Joan and John bought for them. She loved watching and supporting them in all their soccer and T-ball games as Joan and John never missed a game. She and her grandson, John, thought it was so neat that they were able to share a birthday together as well. Together Joan and John were an inspiration as a married couple as they were true companions, teammates, and best friends. He was her rock, and he put her on a pedestal, affectionately calling her “Nana.” Joan also treasured the companionship of their dogs. They had four altogether, all at different times, and they were all rescue mutts that she named Lucky. Even as she suffered with dementia during her sunset years, Joan continued to delight in her loved ones and remained happy and warm as well. The nurses at TenderCare Westwood (especially Lisa and Mary) said she was very much loved and will not be forgotten.
An extraordinary woman to know and love, Joan Patrick was a blessing to those around her. She was more quiet and reserved by nature, but she also had a genuine interest in the lives of those around her. Joan was very smart, too, and she kept up on current events for as long as she was able. A beloved sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, she will never be forgotten.
Joan Patrick died on June 2, 2014, in Kalamazoo. Joan’s family includes her husband, John Patrick; daughter, Mary Katherine Bongers; grandsons, Joseph Paul and John Martin Bongers; sister, Mary Katherine Hanson; and many nieces and nephews. Services will be held Friday, 11 a.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900 with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. Burial will take place at Mt. EverRest Cemetery. Please visit Joan’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the Kalamazoo Humane Society.