Joan L. Culloo McLaughlin "Mama Joan" Flatley
1929 - 2020
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Joan L. Culloo McLaughlin "Mama Joan" Flatley

Joan was in charge of her destiny from the moment she was born in Jersey City, NJ on March 19, 1929. At the age of three, she edged her brother out of a movie audition even though the show was looking for a blond-haired boy. "How's your mother?" she quipped at the director, her pint-sized fist balled at her hip. She landed the role.

Attending the Academy of St. Aloysius, a private Catholic all-girls prep school in Jersey City, she was voted "best legs" by her classmates. Run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Joan learned the enduring virtue of compassion. Early in her adult life, she served on the Jersey City Commission for the Welfare of Developmentally Challenged Children. After her first-born child was born with multiple disabilities, she volunteered for the March of Dimes, United Cerebral Palsy and the Sunshine Foundation.

Joan's love of theater made her a natural at public relations, promoting the fledgling efforts of the performing arts at Newark State College, Brookdale Community College's early productions at the Dam Site Dinner Theater in Tinton Falls, The Barn Theatre in Rumson and at local Summer Theatre in Deal where she raised her family.

A child of the Depression, Joan learned early the value of a dollar. Her financial acumen served her well as Treasurer of the Shore Area YMCA's Swim Team and most notably as The Executive Director of the Greater Asbury Park Area Chamber of Commerce. During her 12 year tenure in this position (1987-1999) Joan helped the City come back to life during the City's most challenging economic times. With personal charm and pure grit she found sponsors to revive The Boardwalk Easter Parade, July 4th Festivities and The Columbus Landing. She was a founding member of the highly acclaimed Jazz Festival and was responsible for the electrification of Sunset Lake Park, which became the festival's home. Her passion and love for Asbury Park did much to make it the amazing city it is today. As a tribute to her service, each year the Asbury Chamber awards "The Joan Flatley Spirit of Asbury Park Award" to an individual that exemplifies her generosity and spirit.

As successful as Joan was professionally, her proudest accomplishments were her children who she shared with her first husband, Hugh McLaughlin. It was through her children that she really saw it all. When Marie was competing as Miss Pennsylvania on stage for the Miss America crown in Atlantic City, Joan was in the front row cheering her on. She managed Katie's years long recovery from a serious motorcycle accident, but her fondest memories were riding on the back of Katie's Harley to her beloved Mrs. Jays. From the moment she walked in, Joan's dance card and glass were filled. She funded Dennis's start in the construction business and watched the venture flourish as she kept the books and managed the payroll. Every Friday, she would don overalls to deliver paychecks to his crew with each envelope accompanied by a well deserved frosty Budweiser. As New Jersey's Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Governor Florio, John introduced her to the political set in Trenton. Later she would visit him in Los Angeles where his public relations clients included, amongst others, the Michael Jackson Family. He would take her to celebrity laden parties in Beverly Hills, Malibu and weekends in Palm Springs. She loved it all.

Having forever avoided the sun and eschewing make-up, Joan's fresh faced beauty illuminated every room she entered. Being an adored storyteller with an immeasurable knowledge of local history made her a sought after guest at gatherings up and down the Jersey Coast. Her keen intelligence and sharp sense of humor made her a stand out star at parties where everyone she met became a lifelong friend. You were equally likely to find her in flip flops under an umbrella at The Deal Casino or gowned and bejeweled at a Hollywood gala.

In Joan's 91 years on this earth she had many accomplishments, but they did not define who she was. Her grace, inner beauty, natural ability to show compassion and wisdom beyond her years touched the lives of everyone whom she came into contact with. Her quiet acts of kindness are known by a legion of dear friends who called her "Mama Joan." Her spirit which will forever live on with the lucky people who walked in her path.

Joan passed peacefully at home of natural causes on May 7, 2020. Husband Gene Flatley, with whom she traveled the world, predeceased her as did her first child, Hugh, Jr. She is survived by Marie Rotunda, Naples, FL; Katie and her husband Al Matovsky, Asbury Park; Dennis and his wife Carol, Brick; John and his husband Nick Reiser, with whom she lived, Middletown; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Due to the pandemic, the funeral was private, and a celebration of life bash will be scheduled at a later date. Those who wish may make a donation in Joan Flatley's memory to the Mercy Center of Asbury Park which has been helping women and children since 1986. Online gifts may be made at mercycenternj.org/support For condolences, please visit buckleyfuneralhome.net




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Published in Naples Daily News from May 16 to May 19, 2020.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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23 entries
May 25, 2020
I just heard the news on this Memorial Day. I fondly remember Joan for her happy and always eagerly excited personality. A rarity. God's Speed, Joan. My sincere condolences to John and the family.
Peter Lucia
Friend
May 22, 2020
I've only met Joan a few times through my sister in law and friend Marie and found Joan to be one of the sweetest, kindest people you could imagine. My condolences to the family.
Amelia Massari
Family
May 21, 2020
I have been a friend of John's for about 47 years. Therefore, Mama Joan was like my second mother to me, as well as half of Deal. She had a delicate art to put a positive spin on everything. Mama Joan was always so graceful entering a room. She was elegant & gentle. A smile that was contagious and unconditional love are just a few memories I will cherish forever. All my love Joni
Joni Dickson
Family
May 19, 2020
To my friend John and family
Earth's loss is Heaven's gain. Though saddened by Joan's departure to realms beyond knowing, I rejoice in a life lived with such grace and Love. It is a blessing to know her.
My thoughts and Love are with you.
I only wish I could have seen the reunion of Mom and Jerrolina.
Don
Donald Pitts
Friend
May 19, 2020
Dear John

Joan will be forever in our hearts.
Joan will be forever present in our daily thoughts.
In the beginning is my end... In the End is my beginning.

T.S. Eliot
With Love
Tess and the pak
Tess Serranti
Friend
May 19, 2020
Joan was a dear, dear friend.We first met at a party after "The King And I."in1965 and remained close both professionally and personally.Joan and I laughed a lot .We had our private jokes that only she and I understood.She helped my career getting me press coverage in The. New York Times,The Jersey. Journal,Variety.and The Asbury Park Press.
We shared good times and bad.One of the best times. was watching young John in "The Music Man." when he. sang "Gary Indiana." and stopped the show"like I had never seen a show stopped before.Joan was always there for me to count on and and offer advice.
I will always miss her.
Love to the family,
Larry Lowenstein
Larry Lowenstein
Friend
May 19, 2020
Dear Mclaughlin Family: Your mom was truly a treasure and a glorious gift to the people of Deal and the world. She carried herself with grace, class and dignity.She had an amazing ability to brighten the room no matter what the company. We regard ourselves lucky to have known her. Our sympathies and condolences to all of you. Joan and Bruce Fromer
Bruce and Joan Fromer
May 19, 2020
Dear John
Joan will forever be in my heart.
Joan will be present every day.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where wr start from.
T.S. Eliot

With love and affection
Always Tess
Tess Serranti
Friend
May 18, 2020
Dear John, Marie, Katie and Dennis, I am so sorry and sad about the loss of lovely Joan. Not only was she my dear friend's mother, she was also my friend, and her passing has left a void in my life. I loved her smile, the twinkle in her eyes and that lovely, sometimes mischievous, laugh! Her sense of humor and lovely, lively personality filled every room she entered! I am grateful for the honor of knowing her, being able to spend time with her through the years and feeling the love she so generously gave to all of us! It's hard to describe the warmth one felt in her presence, as if you were the only person in the world and she was totally focused on you. I know how dearly she loved each of you and her grandchildren, and though this time is truly painful, I hope the you will find comfort, and smiles, remembering her zest for life, kind nature, and her always "ready for a party" attitude! I will miss dear Joan. Love to all of you, Kathleen
Kathleen Flynn
Friend
May 18, 2020
Joan you were an amazing woman. My best friend. You will be missed sooo much!! Your accomplishments were amazing and you have been through so much. You were very strong and super smart. Your first spirit was one of the qualities I loved the most. You always made me laugh and gave me the best advice. It was so comfortable to talk to you and tell you everything. Blood or not you were my family. I love you and miss you so much.
Jocelyn Purifoy
Friend
May 18, 2020
We are so sorry for your loss. Such fond memories of your mom and growing up in Deal. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. Catherine and Diane Barry
Diane Fay
Neighbor
May 17, 2020
Dear Nick, John and family, I am very sorry for the loss of Joan. I will always cherish the fun memories of all the events. So many years; even prior to the grand reopening of the B.C. Hotel by the Vaccaro brothers. She was wonderful, generous and excellent with her love and dedication. Joan left to all she touched with a beautiful garden of fun memories. R.I.P.

Mr. Angel Kames
Angel Kames
Friend
May 17, 2020
What an amazing woman Joan was! I'm so glad I got to meet her a number of times in LA when I lived there, as well as in Palm Springs, CA where I live now, when she was with my dear friend, her loving son, John, whom I adore. Joan was a dynamo and so much fun to be with! My deepest condolences to John and all of Joan's family. I'm very sorry for your loss.
Christiane Joubert
Friend
May 17, 2020
Such a wonderful woman and family. So honored to have met and experienced her wit and wisdom. Condolences, prayers, love and peace to Joans family and all that knew her.
Bob Angelini
Friend
May 16, 2020
I had the pleasure of meeting my second mom in the early part of the 2002. We immediately become friends probably due to the fact, that we shared the same birthday. She officially became my second mother, when we celebrated our birthdays in 2003. Joan brought the east coast to the west coast. Her stories about growing up in the depression era, her 4 different children and her involvement in Asbury , always fascinated me. Thru the years our relationship grew. I still recall our boating trip, where Joan attempted to water ski. We kept each other abreast of on goings, via the phone and our trips between the coasts. As time marched on, we leaned on each other during tough times. I last saw Joan in October 2019. As usual, we laughed, joked and compared notes on family gatherings. Our catch up phone calls will be missed. Joan will be remembered for all those memorable experiences we shared.
Joseph Wager
Friend
May 16, 2020
As we make our way through this world and this life we are faced with many challenges. Time moves forward and life goes on. We can only hope that an individuals efforts in life brings good things to everyone they share life with. I am personally very lucky to have experienced this with Joan. Through no fault of her own she became a part of my life and I was happy to become a part of her life.
Her trips to California became greatly anticipated adventures not to be missed. When I was asked by her(or was I told) for a ride on my motorcycle the next visit to California I started planning for that adventure. She was still a youngster in her 70s at the time and looked hot going down the road on that bike.
My visits to New Jersey were always greeted with open arms and a loving home to spend time while on the East Coast. You do not need to venture too far or too deep into New Jersey to find people and places that are touched by Joan. I will always carry with me that special look from her when she was being told what she needed to do and we both knew she was going to do pretty much what she wanted to do regardless of what she had just been told. Oh, Well just have a little cocktail. All my love
Robert Flippy Aron Brown
Friend
May 16, 2020
Dear John and Nick,
My love and prayers to you and your entire family. We will miss your beautiful Mom who, with charm, wit, and love in abundance, lit up a room and lit up our hearts.
May she Rest In Peace.
Sofia Lowenstein
Sofia Lowenstein
Friend
May 15, 2020
Such a life well lived... surely she will be missed, but what a legacy to leave behind..Rest in peace with the angels!
Donna Bruton
Acquaintance
May 15, 2020
A Wonderful Mom Rest In Peace!!!!! Love Dave Chiacchio
David Chiacchio
Friend
May 15, 2020
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Nancy Perez
May 15, 2020
Dear John & Nick,
My heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family. I will cherish my memories of Joan, her visits and celebrations in sunny CA. She was a loving, generous and beautiful human being. May the long time sun shine upon her.
Love, Nancy
Nancy Perez
Friend
May 15, 2020
Dear Katie and Al, we are so sorry for your loss. She was always a wonderful lady to me. God bless you and your family. Love Crystal and Ernie
Crystal and Ernie Caraballo
Friend
May 15, 2020
A first class woman. You will be missed. I'm lucky to have know such a wonderful person. May you rest peacefully. I will always think of you.
Garrett Giberson
Friend
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