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Joan Mary Patricia (Browne) FarrellFebruary 18, 1940 ~ October 8, 2017 (age 77)
CAMBRIDGE – Joan Mary Patricia (Browne) Farrell, 77, died peacefully on Sunday, October 8, 2017, surrounded by her family at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation in Bennington, VT. She was the beloved wife of Richard Farrell of Cambridge, NY, for more than 59 years. Her family is comforted by the knowledge that Joan had a personal relationship with God and her savior, Jesus Christ.
Born on Staten Island, NY, Joan was the oldest child of Frank and Joan Frances (McQuillan) Browne. She readily shared humorous tales of growing up in New York in the 1940’s and 1950’s, attending sock hops and hanging out at her grandparents’ bowling alley, The Stapleton Bowling Academy. She especially liked to talk about how her grandmother encouraged Richard to take her to the annual bowling banquet and how they fell in love. His Herculean effort to make it home from a trip to Georgia for her high school graduation was another favorite story.
Joan and Richard married on April 12, 1958. Their lifelong romantic adventure took them to St. Hilaire, Quebec, Canada, in the late 1960’s, and to Arlington, VT, from 1973 to 1976, where they managed the West Mountain Inn with Joan as the chef. They finally settled in Cambridge, where they made their home for over 40 years. In 1981, they launched The Eagle Newspaper together. They were soulmates and a shining example to everyone around them of true love and devotion.
Joan and Richard were blessed with eleven children, Richard Michael Farrell of Turnbull, TX; Lori Joan (Bennett) Anderson of Lewes, DE; Kathleen Mary (Gary) McNall of Buskirk, NY; Jeanmarie (Alan) Wilbur of Greenwich, NY; Mary Elizabeth (Joseph) Dillard of Cambridge; Allison Lee Hedley (Michael Daisey) of Harbeson, DE; Kerri Lyn (Christopher) Nolan of Corona, CA; Daniel Francis Joseph Wilson (Jennifer) Farrell of Albany, NY; Jonathan Edward “Ted” Farrell of Cambridge; Meaghan Joan (Denny Keegan) Farrell of Greenwich, NY; and Ashleigh Joanne (Jimmy) Morris of Cambridge; 19 grandchildren, Ryan Farrell of Greenwich, Lowell (Rachel) Williams of Gaithersburg, MD; Christopher (Kayla) McNall of Albany; Zachary (Sarah) McNall of Manlius, NY; Julia and Max Farrell, both of Spring, TX; Joanna (Jeremy) Messina of Greenwich, NY; Connor Nolan of Corona, CA; Bennett Anderson Jr. of Lewes, DE; Carter, Isaac and Alayne Wilkins, all of Cambridge; Jackson Dillard of Cambridge; Jaiden Farrell of Cambridge; Emily and Hailey Farrell of Albany; Alexandra Farrell-Pedersen of Cambridge; and Chandler and Frances Morris, both of Cambridge; and four great-grandchildren, Jacquelyn and Sabrina Williams; Brooklyn Farrell; and Brady McNall. She also had seven step-grandchildren.
She is survived by her sister, Kathryn (Ronald) Barnhart of Beaumont, Alberta, and her brother-in-law, Douglas (Gail) Farrell of Effort, PA. She had many nieces, nephews, and cousins, and was particularly close to Suzanne (Browne) Westmark of Greenville, ME, Bryce Barnhart of St. Petersburg, FL, and Kimberly (Barnhart) Sharpe of Beaumont, Alberta, as well as her son-in-law, Eric Wilkins of Cambridge. She was predeceased by her parents and her only brother, Francis Xavier Browne, Jr.
Joan was very involved in the Cambridge community, serving throughout the years as a member of the Cambridge Central School Board of Education and the Cambridge Parent-Teacher-Student Association. She was the Executive Director of the Cambridge Youth Commission for many years and was instrumental in the launch of the Cambridge Valley Chamber of Commerce, serving as its first member-elected President from 1997 to 2001.
Although The Eagle was the primary family business, Joan also helped run Travel Time, a local travel agency, with her daughter, Jean, and The Country Sampler, a gift shop specializing in locally made products. Before the launch of The Eagle, Joan worked as a bookkeeper at Haynes Ford and at the Immaculate Conception Church, both in Hoosick Falls, NY.
Joan’s many interests included painting, drawing, gardening and travel. She liked nothing better than the feel of her hands in the earth, a talent she inherited from her grandfather who was known for his homegrown tomatoes. She was a wonderful cook and baker, creating fantastic holiday meals and her signature dishes, such as cheesecake, apple pie, concord grape pie, stuffed peppers, and lasagna. She was fascinated by Alaska and visited there twice with Richard. She enjoyed programs about Alaskan homesteaders surviving in the unspoiled tundra. Joan and Richard traveled to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central America, and Ireland. They enjoyed many cruises. For their 40th wedding anniversary the couple visited Paris, France, and their children surprised them with a trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon for their 50th anniversary.
Joan’s volunteer experience began at a young age when she was a candy striper at St. Vincent’s Hospital on Staten Island and continued throughout her life. She worked with blind students at Cambridge Central School and provided enrichment classes at St. Mary’s Academy. Joan ran a child care program at St. Patrick’s Church in the former Patrician Hall when the family first came to Cambridge and helped organize the holiday bazaar. She and Richard volunteered in Canada to direct and produce several dramatic productions at their children’s schools. She also did enlargements of illustrations and Braille translations for the visually-impaired. In later years, Joan assisted with mailings for several not-for-profit organizations.
Joan was a talented writer and an avid reader with a brilliant mind. She particularly enjoyed historical fiction and was a fan of James Michener, Pearl S. Buck, Frank McCort, Julian Fellowes, and most recently, Diana Gabaldon. For her husband’s 80th birthday celebration last summer, she organized a formal 10-course Downton Abbey-style dinner at the Wiawaka Holiday House in Lake George. The family all turned out in period attire for this amazing party.
Joan’s sharp sense of humor was legendary, as was her ability to hear everything (even while sleeping). Her greatest talent was making each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren feel unique, special and loved. She gave wonderful advice and was an outstanding role model of what a mother, grandmother, wife, and friend should be.
A celebration of Joan’s life will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 13, at St. Patrick’s Church in Cambridge. A private burial will take place at Woodlands Cemetery in Cambridge at the convenience of the family. There will be no calling hours.
Joan loved children and had a place in her heart for every child she met. The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Shriners Hospitals for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607, or to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105.