OBITUARY

Joan Randazzo McKenna

July 13, 1934December 22, 1990
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Joan Francis Randazzo McKenna was a devoted wife and mother, accomplished horsewoman, relentless volunteer, Realtor and, in her sister’s words, “a really fun person,” all at once.

The St. Louis native died Dec. 22, 1990, in a car accident. She was 56.

Joan was born July 13, 1934, the daughter of John Lafata Randazzo, owner of the European Import Corp. wine shop in Clayton, and Adelina Helena Giuseffi Randazzo.

Joan attended Villa Duchesne for elementary and secondary school, then earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology and sociology at Maryville College in St. Louis County, while minoring in American history and government.

She also competed for Maryville’s equestrian team on her Thoroughbred jumper, Woodlad. Joan started her professional career working for Pan American World Airways in the 1950s until she married Joe McKenna in 1959.

With her children raised in the mid-1980s, she returned to school and earned her real estate license, then served as a Realtor in Scottsdale, Arizona, for five years.

She was passionate in the late 1980s about trying to start a side business videotaping homes for sale to allow homebuyers to sit in a library and view tapes rather than driving around, an idea just a few years ahead its time as the internet had yet to gain traction.

She was way ahead of her time in understanding the value of video in all aspects. She bought and lugged around a heavy VHS camera in the early 1980s, recording priceless memories at a time when few others thought that was a good idea.

Over decades, Joan volunteered for a range of diverse organizations and often wound up running them. She learned quickly what she didn’t know.

From 1964 to 1983, she filled many roles at Villa as a former student and parent, from serving as a member of the board of trustees and alumnae board, to president of the mothers’ club. As social chairman, she once made arrangements for 30 events in a year.

Artistic skills came naturally to her, whether she was decorating her home or creating dozens of table centerpieces using mirrors, stuffed animals and tissue paper for a school brunch for hundreds.

Despite her preference for cleanliness and order, she encouraged her children and nieces and nephews to do messy activities at her popular kitchen table, such as dyeing eggs for Easter or making papier-mâché head gear for Halloween costumes. She loved to plan treasure hunts on holidays.

Joan learned as a child to knit socks for soldiers during World War II and later turned that skill into making sweaters and gifts for others. If not knitting, she was needlepointing.

Her grandmother was a dress designer at the turn of the 20th century who often made clothes for Joan and her sister, Mary Ann. Consequently, both sisters had a knack for style and always looked nice, even lounging around the house.

Joan also loved to play the guitar and played popular '70s and '80s songs.

She had perfect handwriting, even for a Catholic school alum.

Joan and husband Joe believed that athletics were a good way to teach discipline, so they supported their children’s participation in many sports, from gymnastics, to swimming, to figure skating.

The two helped found the Creve Coeur Figure Skating Club and often served in jobs such as president and treasurer.

Joan was an animal lover at heart. She started riding horses as a young child, even though her mother, Adelina, was scared to death of them.

Joan’s early years were spent riding at Missouri Stables in a facility south of the eventual Arena location along Highway 40. She and her friends rode through the tunnel under the highway to gain access to Forest Park.

Joan’s father bought her a Saddlebred, Hildegard, which she rode and showed as a teen. Her parents found out she was secretly riding the jumper of a friend when they were in the stands at a horse show and Joan entered the ring to jump a course.

She didn’t want her own daughter to get involved with horses but eventually relented. Her son became an equestrian, as well.

In the end, Joan and Joe started a successful horse breeding farm, with their horses showing across the country and their stallion producing 25 offspring.

The couple also helped revive the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show in 1978 at the Queeny Park ice rink to bring back an elegant indoor show to the area. They served on the board, handled media functions and helped run it for several years. The show drew horses from around the country, and each night was designed to be as exciting as a musical theater production. The stands were packed, and the admission fees raised thousands of dollars for diabetes research. The horse show continues to this day, though at a new venue and in a different format.

In Arizona, Joan and Joe joined the board of the SWEAT eventing club and helped found an international three-day event called the Circle K International, drawing top equestrians from around the world.

With everything they had on their plate, no one could have blamed the couple if they were a bit selfish with their time. Far from it, they gave freely whenever they were asked.

When people called seeking horse advice, Joan would drop everything and spend hours offering guidance. There simply was no end to her generosity and diplomacy, and she had no shortage of friends.

Joan blended poise, grace, leadership, generosity, and an outgoing personality into a woman whom people loved. Her early death left many questioning why fate handed this ending to someone who gave so much.

Joan was survived by her husband, Sylvester Joseph McKenna Jr., her four children, Erin (Matthew) Krentz of Salt Lake City, Utah; Kristin (Scott) Anderson of Florence, Oregon; Joan McKenna of New Melle, Missouri; and Sylvester Joseph "Terry" McKenna III of Tucson, Arizona; and her sister, Mary Ann Stephen. She was preceded in death by her brother, John Josef Randazzo. Joan’s family eventually would include four grandchildren – Andrew Krentz, Lisa Krentz, Brian Krentz, and Logan McKenna. She also was survived by nephews David Stephen, Daniel (Sally) Stephen, Chris (Susan) Stephen, and Jennifer (Joe) Goeke; Frederick James McKenna (Norma West), Molly McKenna (Steve Neukomm), Thomas McKenna (Karen), Dorcas McKenna (Brian Fallon), William McKenna, and Bridget McKenna; and Catherine (Jerry) Jones, Barb Ashley-Campbell, Elizabeth (Bruce) Carter, Russell (Ann) Meyer, and Patricia (Neil) Norton.

Memories

Joan Randazzo McKenna

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a baby in 1934.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna at 18 months.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna (left) with her sister, Mary Ann, and brother, John.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a child.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna (left) and her sister, Mary Ann, in dresses made by their grandmother, Sadie Giuseffi, a dress designer at the turn of the 20th century.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna with her jumper, Woodlad. The two competed on the equestrian team of Maryville College.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna in a high school yearbook photo.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna with her father, John Lafata Randazzo, at a school graduation ceremony.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a young adult.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna in a portrait.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a baby in 1934.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna at 18 months.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna (left) with her sister, Mary Ann, and brother, John.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a child.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna (left) and her sister, Mary Ann, in dresses made by their grandmother, Sadie Giuseffi, a dress designer at the turn of the 20th century.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna with her jumper, Woodlad. The two competed on the equestrian team of Maryville College.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna in a high school yearbook photo.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna with her father, John Lafata Randazzo, at a school graduation ceremony.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna as a young adult.

FROM THE FAMILY

Joan Randazzo McKenna in a portrait.