Joanne Breen Note

May 19th, 2021

Joanne Breen Note, a beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother died peacefully in her home on Mothers Day, May 9th, 2021. Born on October 10th, 1933; She was 87. Joanne is predeceased by her husband of 59 years, John Charles Note and her parents, Walter A. and Marcella Averman Breen, and her twelve Breen siblings.  

Joanne, the youngest of her large family, grew up in Crafton, PA. She shared stories of a wonderful, playful childhood and especially treasured time with her brothers and sisters at Geneva on the Lake.  After graduating from high school, Joanne worked as a secretary for US Steel. At 22, she married John and together they began raising a beautiful family. When Joanne wasn’t busy taking care of children and entertaining her grandchildren she was swimming, sewing, painting, gardening, making stained glass, or cooking delicious meals. In her late 40s, after her children were grown, Joanne returned to school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Throughout her 50s and 60s, she cared for elderly patients. She also owned a small clothing business, New-Live Easy On, making customized apparel for seniors with mobility challenges.

 Joanne is survived by six children; Joanne Note Brooks (Garrett) of Mill Valley CA, Amy Note Brugger (Eric) of Woodside, CA, Michael Note (Rona) of Sonoma, CA, John Note (Suzy) of Langhorne PA, Marcella Note (Ladi Marenec) of Sonoma, CA, and Mark Note (Akiko Shimamura) of Seattle, WA; 14 grandchildren, John Note, Allyson Mojica (Jose), Andrew Note, Emily Yeston (Josh), Robert Note, Bryan Note, Emilie Marenec, Josef Marenec, Sophia Brooks, Abigail Brooks, Alexander Brugger, Stephanie Brugger, Christopher Brugger, and Markus Brugger; plus 3 great-grandchildren, Delylah Note, Daniella Note, and Emilia Mojica. She is also an aunt to numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside ceremony will be held at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, 830 Highland Rd, Newtown, PA at 11:30 am on Saturday, May 29th followed by a gathering for friends and family at the Note family home in Yardley.

In lieu of flowers please donate to a charity of your choice, to Save the Children or Ronald McDonald House Charities

The following is a special tribute written by Stephanie Brugger, Joanne’s grandchild:

Joanne, mother to many, grandmother to many more, and great grandmother was a woman of endless love, resiliency, and strength. She was never afraid to say how she felt or break rules that she didn’t like. She was a powerhouse of mother, caring for six children with the tenacity of the endless ocean waves. Her life was filled with the endurance of caring, exploring, and going after her dreams, even into her fifties as she became a nurse. After twenty-seven years of rearing children, cooking delicious meals, and making magic at Christmas and Easter time, she never missed a beat. She was born in Pittsburgh cared for her mother as a young girl and learned first hand hard lessons which gave her the motivation to stand up for herself and speak out later in life. She became initiated into motherhood and marriage at the age of 22 and spent the rest of her life growing a beautiful and loving family. Never sitting idly, an artist of stained glass, a subtle bridge player, sewer of many beautiful dolls made with real baby clothes, she always wanted to work in an orphanage and serve children without mothers. Perhaps because her maternal energy was expansive and enduring, despite any foibles she had throughout that journey of mothering her children. She never claimed she was perfect and she did the best she could with what she had. An artist through and through, her creative energy expanded in all directions, those mu-mu dresses she created and sold in some farmer’s markets, the decorations at holiday time, especially Christmas, even painting over some of Amy’s paintings. Mum Mum, as she was known to many grandchildren, has a special place in the hearts of our childhoods. Her joy and love of babies and children always shone through, even though I’m sure she was happy to be a grandmother and be able to hand the babies back over. Despite growing up in a world that was difficult for women in many ways, she bent the rules and didn’t let femininity stop her from doing the things she wanted to. Mum Mum enjoyed her coffee, cigarettes, and sweet treats, taking great pleasure in decadent food and entertaining shows. In her old age, she traveled the world and saw many islands of the Caribbean, Central America, and beaches beyond, but none of them, in her view, beat Long Beach Island. The beach she said was the most perfect beach. She would often point out to the ocean and say, “See, you never see a darn fish or nothing! That great big ocean, you think you’d see something…” and the last time she was looking out over the ocean on Long Beach Island, this past October on her 87th birthday, she in fact did see something. A couple of dolphins. A lover of the ocean, she would scoff at anyone afraid to jump headfirst into the cool crashing waves, as she would charge into the great mother waters with her bathing cap and swim in her depths, unafraid and free there. She always loved the water, the ocean, taking baths, and being submerged by the elemental calmness of wetness. Her affinity to turtles makes you wonder if she was one in a past life! A caretaker of many small creatures, she loved looking out her window to watch the birds and often would protest when they wouldn’t come around. Mum mum’s hearing may have faded in her life, but she took great thrill and joy listening to the music of Susan Boyle and evening news on the highest volume the TV could reach. A fan of the Irish romance thriller tv series Poldark, she always enjoyed seeing how people lived before the ease of electricity and technology. Perhaps because she empathized with the way her mother had to wash and cook for fifteen people almost every day with no washing machines or no dishwasher… talk about time-consuming. In her final months, Mum Mum was able to be submerged once again in the great embrace of the Caribbean sea off the island of St. Martin for one final great adventure, just two months before she passed. Now we can say she gently released her hold on reality, surrounded by loved ones, and was walked home hand and hand. In the end, Mum Mum heard many of your goodbyes, felt all of your love, and cried only a few tears as she knew her final debut would soon arrive. She faced her journey forward with so much bravery, grace, and strength, trust, beauty, and acceptance. She died peacefully being held by her daughter Amy the morning of Mother’s Day, leaving her body in a gentle pull upwards, quickly and thoroughly. After suffering many years of chronic pain due to damaged disks in her spine, arterial deterioration throughout her legs, and multiple heart attacks, it is safe to say she is happily no longer in any pain. She will join her loving husband and father to her children side by side at Washingtons Crossing Cemetery and the rest of her ashes will be scattered near the most perfect beach in the world, to return back to the sea and earth, where she is most likely swimming and flying freely as the dolphins, turtles, and birds she loved so dearly. She is survived by an extensive family of six children, Mark, Marcella, John, Michael, Amy, and Joanne, her fourteen grandchildren Emilie, Joseph, John, Allyson, Andrew, Emily, Robert, Bryan, Alexander, Stephanie, Christopher, Markus, Sophia and Abigail, and her three great-grandchildren, Emilia, Daniella, and Delylah. She leaves behind a legacy of love, a bright beauty of passion, pizzaz, laughter, and a sprinkle of mischievousness. She imparts the wisdom to live life fully and follow your dreams no matter what and don’t let anyone stop you. She believed she was guided by Mother Mary and her holy compassion and protection after seeing her image in a waterfall one beautiful day, and she once said this is what she knows to be God. May you be embraced in the loving arms of the Mother, and may you know peace, your memory alive in all of your family, your legacy of love running deep in our blood. We love you. Thank you for everything you did. Mum Mum – you may rest, fly, be free, and know deep eternal peace again in the loving light of Divinity.