Obituaries are challenging to write. How do you begin to adequately represent the life of a complicated person in one-dimensional words that cannot begin to capture the energy, spirit, and soul of a person? This effort will fall short, but we will attempt to take it as far as we can.
Our mom and the friend of many, Joan Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born in New York City on October 29, 1933. Joan was the proud daughter of William Fitzgerald and Hazel Smith Fitzgerald. She was an only child so learned early how to make friends quickly.
You hear of that saying, "She didn't know a stranger," and with mom, it was so very true. She had at times almost too big of a heart; she would give all she had to others that she felt had greater need.
Mom had an incredibly sharp mind. She loved to read, was always up on current events and had little tolerance for those that failed to be aware of the news, and what was happening around them. She felt that every person had a responsibility to show up, be active and make a positive difference whenever possible.
The family: Mom adored her family. She loved her children, and we liked to joke that as much as we think she loved us, we know that she adored her grandchildren and great-grandchildren even more and that's ok with us – they are wonderful!
To her grandchildren and great-grandchildren: You should know that she treasured every photo and story about each of you. We wish you could have known her in her younger days; she was a spitfire handful with endless energy.
The animals: Mom was never complete unless she had a rescue cat (or three) or dog in the house. It's just how she was – her spirit and soul loved animals, and she was forever helping and donating what little she had to animal welfare causes just as much as she supported and gave to those humans she felt were less fortunate than her. Whatever the afterlife has for her, it had better include reconnecting mom with each of her many beloved animals or God and the angels will have some explaining to do.
Mom was a community "do-er." She volunteered on political campaigns, helped on many fundraisers when she had little money to spare, loved attending the theater and movies and to read books of all kinds.
She spent much of her career working in human services which financially was always a challenge, but she positively impacted so many lives. She was always there for anyone that needed anything at any hour of the day or night. And she impressed upon her children the importance of volunteering and being grateful for the things we had and not focus upon what we did not have.
Growing up, we could easily expect a stray animal or random person to be in the house. Mom would adopt cats, dogs, and people to help them along in their journey. Her journey was arduous, but she stayed a fighter until the end.
Mom loved to travel but never got to do so as much as she wished. We hope that she will finally be able to see all of the places and experience all of the things she so desired.
It would be unkind to her spirit to make her life sound as though it was wonderful because it was not. Mom struggled with many challenges throughout her life. She endured losing her parents and eldest child too soon. She and her husband moved far away from their New Jersey home to Illinois, and it was a difficult transition. But through it all, she kept her wicked sense of humor and loyalty to her family and friends.
Mom is survived by her children, Karen Spellman Zanger and her husband, Greg Zanger, Lisa Spellman and her husband Mark Trimble and son Matthew Spellman and his wife, Erin Spellman.
And by her beloved grandchildren - Karen and Greg's five sons - Adam Zanger and his wife Katherine, Luke Zanger, Josh Zanger, Jared Zanger and Jordan Zanger and special friends Alexa, Brenna and Ruby.
And by her beloved great-grandchildren - children of Adam and Katherine - Briana, Dominic, Liam and Blaise.
Mom, we shall forever have images of your beautiful smile, your sharp mind and sense of humor and ability to endure much. You are already missed by many. We wish you peace and happiness during the next stage of your journey.
The family requests no flowers. Instead, all kind memorials may be made to the Quincy Humane Society at https://www.quincyhumanesociety.org/how-can-i-help/donations/
A memorial service will be held at Calvary Cemetery on Saturday July 7, 2018 at 10:30am.
Rich & Donna Lane
- Sincere Sympathy for your loss. Joan was a special lady and very well loved. She will be missed. Prayers to you all and all your family. Rich, Donna, Gabe & Gavin Lane
Cedar Rapids, IA
- Dear Lisa, Karen & Matt,
My deepest sympathy on Joan's passing. It was purely serendipitous I noticed the obituary, I was searching for one of my relatives. I will always fondly remember Joan & her zest for life. I'll keep you & your families in my thoughts & prayers. Kudos on the beautiful obituary, you captured the essence of your mother perfectly.
Again my deepest sympathy,
- My heartfelt condolences to the family. May you draw on the comfort that only God can give through His loving promises. "He will wipe out every tear from their eyes and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore." (Revelation 21:4) He also promises that all those who have died will "hear his voice and come out." (John 5:28,29) He will return your dear mom to you. I did not know this wonderful woman, Ms. Joan, but I hope to meet her in God's new world.