Johanna Theresa Fitzgerald Stephens Welch, 72, of Idaho Falls, passed away suddenly Sunday, March 3, 2013, at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Joan was born April 9, 1940, in St. John's, Newfoundland, to Leo and Evelyn Fitzgerald.
She lived in St. John's until she was 18 years old, when she met and married Air Force veteran Laverne Stephens, and moved to Abilene, Texas. They later moved to Anchorage, Alaska; Cambria, Calif.; and then Mountain Home, Idaho. Joan and Laverne divorced.
Joan met Thomas (Tom) Welch in 1975. Tom, also a retired Air Force veteran, and Joan were married in December 1976 and settled in Idaho Falls, where they raised their combined family of 13 children. Joan was a member of the Idaho Falls Women's Bowling Association and was a Women's Doubles State Champion. She was also an active member in Christ the King Catholic Church.
Joan managed the Best Western Driftwood Motel for 19 years before she and Tom took over as resident managers of Creek Side Apartments in Ammon. In 2008, they retired and began a life of caring for and cherishing the time they got to spend with their children and grandchildren.
Joan's life revolved around her grandkids, to whom she devoted her last years by providing love, companionship, hugs, kisses and everlasting memories they will grow up with and cherish forever.
She is survived by her husband of 36 years, Tom Welch of Idaho Falls; five sons and three daughters, Dean (Anja) Stephens of Palm Springs, Calif., David (Lisa) Stephens of Layton, Utah, Danny (Judie) Stephens of Port Orchard, Wash., Daryl Stephens of Gilbert, Ariz., Darren (Angie) Stephens of Mons, Belgium, Cathy (Ron) Fink of Redfield, S.D., Karen (the late Robert) Bevan of Clemmons, N.C., and Laurie (Steve) Rierson of Idaho Falls.
Her marriage to Tom added the excitement of five more children to her life: Denise (Brent) Maxwell, Valmarie (Dave) Price and Thomas (Kathy) Welch Jr., all of Boise, Clint (Pam) Welch of El Paso, Texas, and Orren (Brooke) Welch of Excelsior, Minn. Joan is also survived by two sisters, Mary Fitzgerald Williams of St. John's, Newfoundland, and Jeanette Fitzgerald Meyer of Whidbey Island, Wash.; 37 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by brother, Hughie Fitzgerald of St. John's, Newfoundland; sisters, Bernice Fitzgerald Spurgeon of St. John's, Newfoundland, and Patricia Fitzgerald Fiore of Caldwell, N.J.; her twin brother, Gerry Fitzgerald, who died at age 4; brother, Buddy, who died at age 2; and brother, Edward, who died shortly after birth.
The family will visit with friends from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Wood Funeral Home East Side, 963 S. Ammon Road. At her request, no other services will be held.
Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.woodfuneralhome.com.