Swan Funeral Home


Joan C. Carlson

November 8, 1949October 30, 2020

Joan C. Carlson, 70, beloved wife of Donald T. Carlson, of Old Saybrook, CT.

Joan passed away peacefully on October 30, 2020, after a long battle with cancer. Joan was in Hospice at Middlesex Hospital, where she received tender, loving care. Although unresponsive in her last weeks, Joan’s family spent many hours with her, reading, praying, and reminiscing.

Joan was born on November 8th, 1949 in East Haven, CT to the late John C. Canning and Mary Canning (Nuzzo), and grew up in Guilford, CT. Joan and Donald were married at St. Claire Church, East Haven, CT on February 13th, 1983, and spent the first year of their marriage in East Haven. They later moved to Old Saybrook, where Joan resided for the last 36 years.

Joan graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 1981 with a Masters in Upper Elementary Education after graduating from Albertus Magnus College in 1971 with a BA in English and History. In 1981, she received her teaching certification. Joan taught three years at Saint Mary School in New Haven CT, and then for 12 years at Our Lady of Mercy Country Day School in Madison, CT.

After taking time away from teaching to raise her daughters, Joan worked for Business & Legal Resources (BLR) in Old Saybrook, CT, as a proofreader and copy editor for many years. In 2014, Joan took a part-time job with Tantor Media in Old Saybrook, CT as an audio book proofreader. As an English major and avid reader, editing fiction and non-fiction audio books was a dream retirement job for Joan.

Joan was a parishioner of St John Roman Catholic Church (now part of the St. Pio Parish). Joan was a CCD teacher for many years; the Pro-Life Representative for over 25 years; a member of the parish council for multiple terms; the head of Couple-to-Couple Marriage Preparation with Donald for over 30 years; and the organizer of multiple yearly Red Cross Blood Drives. Joan was the President of the Columbiettes, Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, for 12 years. Among the many volunteer initiatives, they made Boxes for the Homeless which they filled with toiletries and personal care items, collected pop-tops for Ronald McDonald House, conducted Baby Bottle Drives to raise money for Birthright, and volunteered for the Special Olympics Summer Games. She later held several positions in the State Columbiettes. Joan volunteered at both Saybrook and Gladview Convalescent Homes, as well as for Birthright of Greater Norwich, and CT Right to Life, for many years. Joan found great joy in serving others, and will be most remembered for her devotion to her family and loving generosity to all she met.

In addition to her husband, Joan is survived (and will be dearly missed by) her daughters Ann Marie E. Carlson of Manhattan, NY, and Lizzy Carlson O’Keefe and her husband Christopher D. O’Keefe of Baltimore, MD, her sister Mary C. LaFogg and her husband Nelson L. LaFogg of Cheshire, CT, her brothers John A. Canning and his wife Elaine M. Canning of Guilford, CT, and James M. Canning of Guilford, CT, her sister-in-law Gail L. Bianchi (Carlson) and her husband George J. Bianchi of Falmouth, MA, her niece Amy M. Gorman (Bianchi) and her husband James C. Gorman of Forestdale, MA, her nephew Michael G. Bianchi and his wife Aya T. Bianchi of Arlington, MA,, and four great nephews and nieces.

Joan's family would like to express their deep gratitude to the Hospice staff of Middlesex Hospital for their wonderful care in Joan’s last days and to her friends and neighbors for their many acts of kindness and support during her long illness.

Funeral services will be private due to COVID-19. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Joan’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society. Joan was passionate about American Red Cross blood drives, helping to host multiple per year for many years, and also an avid blood donor herself. Over the last few years, Joan received multiple blood transfusions. Please consider donating blood in her honor.



No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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Joan C. Carlson

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Jeanne Cardinal

November 9, 2020

Met Joan through my sister Thelma. So warm and dear. Her list of accomplishments is beautifully inspiring. Wishing you all peace.


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