Joan Marilyn Rockafield

January 5, 1930May 18, 2020

Joan Marilyn Lenihan Rockafield

Joan was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 5, 1930, in the middle of winter, at the beginning of the Great Depression, the daughter of proud Irish and Polish immigrant ancestry. Joan’s family moved to a dairy farm in Kalamazoo, Michigan during the second World War. Joan attended Nazareth Academy (for girls) in Kalamazoo, and though she earned a full merit scholarship to Nazareth College, she left college after her junior year to work. One of her first jobs was as a telephone operator running a central switchboard, manually connecting calls by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. Joan was married in 1953 and was the loving mother of five children. Eventually moving to Phoenix, Arizona and then back to the Chicago suburbs, Joan was a top selling realtor at Thorsten Realty (later Coldwell Banker) in La Grange, Illinois. After her family was grown, she later moved back to the Phoenix area where she was employed by Melcher Mortuaries, and then at Mariposa Gardens. Joan was active in many community and cultural organizations, participating in the St Francis Xavier Women’s Club in the 1960’s, and in the 1970’s helping found both a community political association and the Friends of LaGrange Library (which often entailed housing throughout her first floor the truckloads of boxes of books for the annual book sale), and in the 1980’s aiding in securing the state’s first group home residence for mobility impaired individuals. She was also an active member of the Chicago Lyric Opera. “Jo”, “Joannie”, “Rocky” leaves behind many old and dear friends, with whom she enjoyed her myriad interests and activities. Joan means “God is Gracious”, and she lived up to that name, always thinking of others, their needs, some little gift or news which would have special meaning to family or friends. Whether sharing her gained wisdom in gardening in many soils and climates (which led to her getting a Master Gardener certification at age 80), or her love for music (especially Sunday Opera at the Met), or her insights at book club and views of current political events, Joan was a bright light (for both her smile and wit) at their dinner parties and trips. She could always be counted on for her family recipe eggnog at Christmas, her knowledge on some arcane-but-relevant history at a moment’s notice in conversation, or bringing the Pim’s cup to the Derby running (never count out her horse !). Joan held family pride and tradition close to her central character. Joan’s parents, William E. Lenihan and Lillian Lenihan (nee Crain) preceded her in death, as did her beloved brother William Jr. and her younger sister Patricia Anne Brubaker. She is survived by her sister, Mary Lenihan Melcher, and numerous cousins and nephews, and the delights of her life: she was Nana to four grandchildren (Alexandra, Dana, Kai, and Ava), three great-grandchildren (Isabella, Amelia, and Killian), and Aunt Jo for three grand niece and nephews (Cody, Adam, and Lauren). Joan went ahead of us on May 18, 2020. Funeral services were held at Chapel of Roses Melcher Mortuary on Friday, May 22nd, and she is laid to eternal rest at Mariposa Gardens, Mesa, Arizona.

Memorial gifts in Joan’s name to either Illinois Independent Living Center (1141 Iroquois Avenue, Suite # 104, Naperville, IL 60563) or Desert Botanical Garden (1201 N Galvin Pkwy, Phoenix, AZ 85008) will be greatly appreciated.


  • Visitation

    Friday, May 22, 2020

  • Rosary

    Friday, May 22, 2020

  • Entombment

    Friday, May 22, 2020


Joan Marilyn Rockafield

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Judy Scruggs

May 21, 2020

I worked with Joanie at Mariposa Gardens. She was the friendliest, kindest and most caring friend.
She was funny and liked to talk about her childhood and young adulthood when several of us would meet for lunch.
Several of her clients would come to the office just to visit with her because she made everyone feel like they were friends, not just clients.
She was compassionate when making arrangements with families who had suffered s loss and the families had only good things to say about her.
I'll miss her and her sweet smile.


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