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Aug. 25, 1931 to Jan. 8th, 2013

Our beloved Joanie went to be with our Lord the morning of Jan. 8, 2013.

Joan Elaine Ballou was born Aug. 25, 1931 in Owasso, Mich., to Clifford and Mamie Ballou. At age 3 she was diagnosed with polio and spent most of a year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She courageously volunteered for experimental surgery and as a result regained use of the muscles in her legs for the rest of her life.

At age 15 and a sophomore in high school, she moved with her parents to Phoenix, AZ, where she graduated in 1949 from Phoenix High School. Following high school, Joan attended the Salvation Army Academy and served the Salvation Army, stationed first in Las Vegas and then Hawaii.

Upon returning from Hawaii, she became the administrative assistant to the mayor of Phoenix. Following the mayor's term, she continued to serve the city as assistant to the general manager of Phoenix International Airport.

In 1960 she married Smoky Durniat and moved to Nogales, AZ, cofounding Sandia Distributors, a watermelon packing and shipping operation. For many years they moved between Phoenix and Nogales depending on the season. After Smoky passed away, Joanie continued to run and operate Sandia, no small feat in the male-dominated produce business in Nogales.

In 1984 at a produce convention in Washington, D.C., she was introduced to Al Bernardi, a produce veteran from Nogales who had also been recently widowed. Al spent a year of hard work convincing Joanie that the two should be together.

On Oct. 19, 1985, Joanie agreed to say "I do" and was married to Al in a beautiful ceremony in Pescadero, CA.

Joanie retired from the produce business in 1989, but the business bug was too big a draw for her, and in 1990 she and Al opened the Galleria Bernardi in Tubac. Al retired from the produce business in 1991, and the two of them spent 7 days a week, and countless hours a day, building the Galleria into a successful business, selling fine art and Christmas collectibles. They finally retired in 1995, sold the Galleria, and moved to Green Valley.

Joanie and Al spent all their time together traveling extensively across the United States in their RV visiting friends and relatives wherever they went, and making new friends wherever they were. They entertained and socialized with many friends in the Green Valley area, including the Mangia Mangia club, and the local chapter of the Italian Catholic Federation. Joanie was very committed to and involved in her church, the Center for Spiritual Living.

Joan and Al moved to La Posada in Green Valley, AZ in May of 2008 and lived there until the time of her passing.

Joan is survived by her husband Al Bernardi of Green Valley; her sister Edie Knopf of Phoenix, AZ; stepchildren Henriette Frisbie (Bert) of Copperopolis, CA;, J. Jeanine Schultz (Tom) of Old Monroe, MO; Allan Bernardi (Carolyn) of Pescadero, CA; Lee Curzon (Tom) of Petaluma, CA; Susan Bollinger (Bruce) of Ooltewah, TN; Lori Sutton (Mark) of Atwater, CA; and Joe Bernardi (Cathie) of Tucson, AZ. Joanie also left many nieces and nephews, step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, where she will live on in memories.

Joanie's family would like to thank the many caregivers at La Hacienda and La Via who took fantastic care of Joanie in her final months.

There will be a Celebration of Life memorial service in the El Dorado room in the La Perla Building at La Posada on Jan. 19, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m .

La Posada

635 South Centre Ave

Green Valley, AZ 85614

In lieu of flowers, please make contributions in Joan Bernardi's name to: Center for Spiritual Living, PO Box 1598, Green Valley, AZ 85622.

Published in Green Valley News & Sun on Jan. 16, 2013
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