Joan Connelly Garrett, 85, a longtime San Marino resident who most recently lived in Atascadero, passed away peacefully on June 22, 2018, in Templeton, Calif.
Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 6, 1932, and moved from San Gabriel to San Marino when she was 10 years old. Joan attended San Marino's Valentine and Huntington schools, and graduated from South Pasadena-San Marino High School (SPSMHS) in 1950, where she was a Tigerettes song leader. Joan was chosen to ride on the City of South Pasadena's float in the 1950 Rose Parade. In 1952, Joan graduated from Stephen’s College in Missouri with a degree in Fashion Design.
On June 19, 1954, Joan married her high school classmate and sweetheart, Robert Driscoll Garrett (Bob). They spent one year in Green Bay, Wis., while Bob played football for the Packers, then two years in Merced, where their first son was born, while Bob completed his service commitment at Castle Air Force Base. They moved back to the San Gabriel Valley area in 1957.
Joan held seemingly every office in the PTA as her four children made their way through San Marino's schools. She was chosen for inclusion in the 1967 edition of “Outstanding Young Women of America” due to her community involvement and volunteerism. A charter and board member of the San Marino Tennis Foundation, she loved playing competitive tennis, especially doubles. She served as the Grad Night Chairman for San Marino High School in 1973. Joan helped spearhead many Class of ’50 reunions throughout the years. She and Bob were members of San Marino Community Church and took great joy in belonging to the Twigbenders church group.
From 1975-1992, Joan served as the City of San Marino’s Recreation Director, creating and overseeing numerous successful programs, including the San Marino Swim Team (the Tsunami) and the Lacy Park Freewheelers summer youth camp.
After Bob’s sudden passing in December 1987, Joan fulfilled their flying ambition by earning her wings in 1988. By 1992, Joan was piloting her four-seater Piper Dakota all over the western United States, often with her children, grandchildren and friends in tow. Although she refrained from demonstrating any aerobatics to her family passengers, she did complete the course!
Joan remained active in the local chapter of Over the Hill Gang International, which she and Bob had joined, and delighted in hiking, biking and white water rafting excursions, as well as skiing (into her mid-70s). Sailing with friends was always a passion, dating back to summers on Balboa Island.
Affectionately known as “Wan” or “Waneewan,” Joan biked through Ireland in 2000 with daughters Terri and Cathi and daughter-in-law Maureen. Her travels took her to Africa, Europe, Machu Picchu and Alaska, where she flew and landed a seaplane. Family vacations created many special memories, particularly those at Black Butte Ranch in Oregon, Bass Lake, and especially an Alaska trip in 2008 which included most of her children, grandchildren and her first great-grandchild.
Joan lovingly and patiently cared for daughter Terri after she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2001. In 2010, Joan’s own scare with a brain aneurysm ended her flying days and she moved to a lovely cottage she designed and built in Atascadero to be closer to some of her family.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents Jack J. and Josephine S. Connelly, younger brother Jack C. Connelly, twin sister Patricia Connelly Herzog, and brothers-in law Richard Vaillancourt and Anthony J. Garrett.
Joan is survived by her son Chuck and his wife, Connie, of Pacific Grove, and their sons, Bobby and CJ, and his wife, Maria; daughter Terri Garrett Thayer of San Luis Obispo, and her children, Kaity Thayer Gould and her husband, Gabe, and their four children, Jack, twins Rebekah amd Benjamin, and Anabelle, and Kevin Garrett Thayer and his wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Lola; son Bill and his wife, Maureen, of San Carlos, and their children, Colleen, Shannon and Brian; daughter Cathi Garrett Casebolt and her husband, Rob, of Atascadero, and their two sons, Robert and his wife, Taylor, and Dylan and his wife, Sarah; sister-in-law Joan Vaillancourt of Redding, Conn.; brothers- and sisters-in-law John C. Garrett and his wife, Carolyn, of Newport Beach, and James J. Garrett and his wife, Maria Rivera, of Lafayette; and numerous nieces and nephews.
One of Waneewan’s great joys was being up in the sky and looking down at the crowded freeways and beautiful landscape, feeling in control and deliciously free. Now, she is doing so from a greater vantage point, with her beloved Bob by her side. Waneewan will be sorely missed but lovingly remembered as thoughtful, selfless, generous, vibrant, fun-loving and kind.
A Celebration of Life will be held at San Marino Community Church on Aug. 3, 2018, at 1 p.m., followed by a reception. A private interment will take place at San Gabriel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to The Robert D. Garrett Memorial Scholarship fund at Stanford University or to the American Lung Association.