Joanne E. Conley
Born: February 4, 1934
Died: June 5, 2021
ROCKFORD – Joanne E. Conley, 87, of Rockford, Illinois joined the choir of angels on June 5, 2021 at Wesley Willows where she had made her home since October of 2016.
Joanne, the youngest of seven children, was born February 4, 1934 in Rockford, Illinois, a daughter of Thomas F. And Vivian M. (Schnidt) Walsh. As a child and teenager, she was an athletic tomboy who climbed trees and rode her bike everywhere. She attended St. Pat's Elementary School and graduated from Muldoon High School, Class of 1952. After graduation, Joanne worked as secretary for W.F. And John Barnes. where she met her husband Thomas Conley. They were married at St. Patrick's Catholic Church on February 26, 1955 in Rockford. After spending the first years of their marriage in Oakland, California, and Orlando, Florida, where Tom was working on projects for Barnes, they settled in Dixon, Il. and spent the next 33 years there raising their three children. Eventually, in 1994, Joanne and Tom returned to Joanne's hometown of Rockford. Until 2016, Joanne was a devoted member of St. Rita's Catholic Church; after moving to Wesley Willows, she became a member of St. Bernadette?s Catholic Church.
Despite having to overcome a lot of adversity in her life, including the death of two sons and a medical injury that left her non ambulatory for the last 5 years of her life, Joanne was perpetually upbeat and interested in life and other people. Up until the last week of her life, she retained her sense of humor and mental acuity. Joanne was extremely generous, with both her time and her resources, and always thinking of others. Even while living at Wesley Willows, she helped the other residents – sitting and talking to new residents who needed reassurance, sharing her clothes with residents who had little and always finding the time and patience to listen to and comfort those who were having difficulties.
Joanne was a lifelong animal lover with a special fondness for dogs, beginning with her childhood dog Tippy, and our family always had at least one, and often two family pets. Even after she, herself, couldn't have pets, she contributed to many animal welfare causes. She also enjoyed both listening to music and singing in the church choir, any board game, playing cards/cribbage/bridge and visiting casinos. Especially, visiting casinos.
Those left to honor Joanne's memory include her loving daughters, Kim Conley, and Karen Prideaux; her best friend and sister, Patricia Sheehan; dear brother, Thomas ;and devoted granddaughters, Jessica Gates (Jeremy Corash), Alexandria Carlson (Gabriel), and Julia Zeleny (Zack); great-grandchildren, Dash and Daisy Corash and Kylee Zeleny; sisters-in-law Flora Walsh and Ruby Walsh; brother-in law Luther (Lou) Haskins, and many special and loving nieces and nephews.
She is predeceased by her parents; husband, Thomas; son, Kristopher; infant son, Kevin; brothers Jim, Jack, and Bob Walsh; sister Rosemary Haskins; brother-in-law, Mickey Sheehan; and sisters in-law Mary Alice Walsh and Donna Walsh.
In addition to her traditional family, Joanne left behind a much beloved second family of Wesley Willows staff. She formed genuine and reciprocal relationships with the CNAs, her physical therapist, nurses and housekeeping staff. It is impossible to express how grateful we are that she loved – and was loved by – them.
At her request, there will be no services held. However, given how loved she was by so many people, the family is planning to have a celebration of life on Tuesday, September 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Fresco at the Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road in Rockford, IL 61107. If you knew her, please consider attending. RSVP to Kim Conley at [email protected]
by September 1, 2021 if you plan on joining us.
Donations in her memory can be made to either Wesley Willows, Attn: Tribute Gift, 4141 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford Ill., 61103 or to Northern Illinois Hospice, 4751 Harrison Ave., Rockford Ill, 61108
Arrangements entrusted to Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, 3910 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford, IL 61103. Share online condolence at www.fitzgeraldfh.com
Published by Sauk Valley News on Jun. 11, 2021.