Joan Eleanor Cummings, 84, of West Yarmouth, MA, entered rest on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, with her daughter, Denise Cummings, by her side. Joan lived her life as a loving and loyal daughter, dutiful and caring sister, strong and devoted wife, dedicated and generous mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and selfless and faithful friend.Born in 1934 in New Haven, CT, to Ralph and Mary (Maturo) Cavallaro, Joan had a spirited upbringing in that city and in Hamden, CT, surrounded by friendship and fellowship while pursuing many outdoor activities. In Hamden, Joan attended Helen Street School and received her secondary education at Hamden High School where she participated in the Pep and Glee Clubs, student government roles, and softball and basketball intramurals. Her yearbook quote, “A smile conquers all obstacles,” captures her vibrancy. After graduating Hamden High in 1952, Joan entered the field of banking and rapidly advanced to lead teller at the First New Haven National Bank in New Haven, CT—a position she enjoyed and reminisced about all her life. She thrived, experiencing memorable family road trips to Florida and selflessly caring for her parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles, all within proximity in southern CT.
In 1957, Joan wed her high school sweetheart, William “Bill” Francis Cummings, also of Hamden. At the age of twenty-three, in September 1957, Joan sailed with Bill on the ocean liner S.S. United States to spend one and half years in France while Bill was in the United States Army. Joan and Bill perfected the art of budget travel and saw many European countries, and in 1958 had their first child, Mary Elizabeth, born in Nancy, France.
Upon return from Europe, Joan led a busy homemaker’s life raising four children in Hamden. She was actively involved in leading and supporting parent-teacher associations, scouting, Hamden Youth Hockey, and local political campaigns while also linking the family to Cape Cod, MA, the family’s seasonal favorite vacation destination. She excelled in crafts, taught wreath-making in the basement of her Hamden home, and self-trained as a scrimshaw artist on Cape Cod. She encouraged her children to appreciate the joys of the arts, creative pursuits, and the natural world, and she held an abiding kindness for all the animal friends that found their way into home and heart.
Following the passing of Bill in 1981, in 1985 Joan and her second husband, Edward R. Noto of Hamden, CT, moved to Cape Cod and later split time between their West Yarmouth home and residence in south Florida. Joan, a true snowbird, relished many happy years as a wife, mother, grandmother, and neighbor living in their Lewis Bay neighborhood and in Hobe Sound and Stuart, Florida.
As a hobby organist and an avid gardener, Joan held life-long passion for music and horticulture. Wherever she lived, Joan grew abundant flowers, and she delighted in supporting local live music. In the early 2000s, in addition to her seasonal patronage, Joan held a beloved volunteer usher position at the Cape Cod Melody Tent. For decades, too, she adored the Cape’s musical performances—from summer series’ and cultural center concerts to Pops by the Sea events; from benefits at West Dennis’ O’Shea’s Olde Inne to Cape-wide gigs by the versatile musician, Rob Warren. Musicians made her smile and music made her shine.
In recent years, Joan’s enjoyment of the Cape was punctuated by several notable stays in Winter Park, FL, where she found joy in the flora, birds, and other wildlife, and in visiting the coast and her former residences and friends in south Florida. On the Cape, “Joanie,” a.k.a. Mama C, nurtured numerous deep friendships with her perpetual open door and an equally enduring and generous open heart—aspects that truly defined her. She wholly valued these relationships, the comforts of her home and splendor of her yard, and the children and gentle companion dogs who visited her. Joan is cherished and will be greatly missed by many.
Survivors include her sister, Beverly Curello, of Prospect, CT; her children Mary Cummings Power, William J. Cummings, Patricia Wyman, and Denise Cummings; her grandchildren Joshua Power, Jocelyne Cummings, William Cummings, and Taylor Wyman; her great granddaughter, Maeve Erin Power; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Joan was pre-deceased by Edward R. Noto (2014) and her sister, Dolores Cox (2017), of Fairfield, CT. Her daughters Mary and Denise extend their sincere thanks to the staff at UMASS Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Campus, for making Joan’s last days more comfortable.
In addition to her family, friends, and neighbors, Joan was very thankful for her life in this country. Therefore, in lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations in her remembrance be made to a cause that you hold close to your heart, that will contribute to the betterment of our country and citizenry.
May Joanie rest in eternal peace.