Joan Woolson (Brown) Hoelzel, 51, of Charlestown and West Hartford, Conn., passed away at her Connecticut home on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007. She did not want us to say that her death came "after a long and courageous battle with cancer," so we can't. But it's true.
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Joan was born in New Haven, Conn., on April 1, 1956, the daughter of the late Stanley Quay Brown and Joan Woolson Brown. She grew up in Madison, Conn., and graduated from Daniel Hand High School, Class of 1974. She received a bachelor of science degree from Yale University in 1978. She was a letter member of the women's crew team at Yale, which protested the lack of shower facilities for the women's team – but not the men's – at the university boathouse.
Throughout her life, Joan was an avid proponent of environmentalism, and she cared especially about the Connecticut shoreline and Long Island Sound. She earned a master of science degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island, and she worked as an environmental analyst with the State of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection for 18 years. In 2001, she and her colleagues at DEP received an award from Gov. John G. Rowland, whom she despised, for her work on the Fort Trumbull project.
Her primary focus was her family and friends, but she also loved sailing, swimming, rowing, traveling, cooking and doing home improvement projects that her husband would not tackle.
Joan is survived at home by her husband, Bill, her son Tanner, and her daughter Merrill. Other survivors include her sister, Quay Brown McKeough and her husband Rick of Darien, Conn., and her brother, Whittier Thompson Brown, and his husband, Barry Aldrich, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
She is also survived by sisters-in-law and brothers in-law in the Chicago area – Vernon and Lorelei Lee, and Jeffery and Dianne Hoelzel – and her mother-in-law, Lorraine Hoelzel.
Also surviving are her maternal uncle, Raymond Woolson, and his wife, Pat, of Grantham, N.H., four cousins, six nieces and nephews, four grandnieces and one grandnephew.
We thank all of Joan's doctors and nurses at St. Francis Hospital, New Britain General Hospital, Grove Hill Medical Center and St. Francis Home Care. In addition, we thank our community of friends at Bugbee School, our friends at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and Joan's colleagues at the Department of Environmental Protection for their unwavering support during her illness.
We are celebrating Joan's life with a memorial service at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2080 Boulevard, West Hartford, on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 10 a.m. A private service and burial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that contributions be made in Joan's memory to breast cancer research.
Published in The Westerly Sun on Nov. 29, 2007