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JoAnn Gagliano McFarland, 61, passed on to eternal life on April 16, 2013 after a long battle with numerous illnesses.
She was born JoAnn Madeline Gagliano on June 20, 1951 in East Meadow, NY, to Vito and Angela (nee Trapani) Gagliano. The family lived in Valley Stream, NY for many years, moving to Cocoa Beach, FL, in 1971. JoAnn attended St. John's University in Queens, NY, and received her BA in Education from Florida Technological University (now UCF) in May 1973.
JoAnn taught Fifth Grade at St. Mary's Catholic School in Rockledge, FL from 1973-1975, after which she was employed by the State of Florida as a social worker for families and children until 1985.
Through mutual friends that arranged a blind date, JoAnn met David McFarland on September 3, 1981. They quickly realized how lucky they were to have found each other, becoming engaged only three weeks after meeting and forever joining together in marriage on February 20, 1982. They moved from Titusville, FL to Merritt Island, FL in April of 1983, and were blessed with two beautiful daughters, Heather Nicole in October of 1985 and Holly JoAnn in October of 1987.
JoAnn's nature to help and mentor children was evidenced in the numerous educational programs and facilities she voluntarily supported for many years; including the BCC Pre-K Lab School program, the Audubon Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization (serving as President), and as an office/classroom assistant at both Jefferson Middle School and Merritt Island High School. JoAnn also loved the Arts and live theatre, especially the many performances of her daughters, and served on the Board of Governors of Surfside Playhouse in Cocoa Beach until 2012.
JoAnn faced many increasingly difficult health challenges the last few years, but throughout all of her struggles, she maintained her love for her vast number of friends and her extended family. Her love of animals resulted in a variety of family pets over the years, and her beloved dogs provided great happiness throughout her life, especially as her health deteriorated. Despite her impaired condition, JoAnn's joy for life reached its zenith when she was able to attend and participate in Heather's marriage on December 22, 2012.
JoAnn is predeceased by her parents and brother, Matthew; and is survived by David, her best friend, soul-mate, and husband of 31 years; their daughters, Heather (Anthony) Mowad of Tallahassee and Holly and her partner David Baum of Viera; and many family members throughout the country. The family wishes to offer their thanks and appreciation to her many doctors, nurses, and caregivers, especially those at Fresenius Dialysis Center, Guardian Paratransit, and the Health Center of Merritt Island.
A Memorial Mass will be held at Our Saviour's Catholic Church in Cocoa Beach, FL on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10am, with a Celebration of JoAnn's life immediately following at the family's home.
Donations are requested to be made to Central Brevard Humane Society in Cocoa.
You may sign JoAnn's guestbook at www.beckman-williamson.com.
Beckman Williamson Funeral Home
101 North Brevard Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Published in FLORIDA TODAY from May 5 to May 9, 2013