Joan A. Laz­zati

Real es­tate pro­fes­sional and fit­ness cen­ter owner was known for her kind heart and quick wit

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fras­mussen@balt­

Joan A. Laz­zati, whoworked in real es­tate sales for two decades and also owned and op­er­ated a Ham­p­den fit­ness cen­ter, died Satur­day of can­cer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Tow­son.

The for­mer Tow­son and Ham­p­den res­i­dent was 59.

“Joan had a zest for life and was just tons of fun,” said Deb Gelin, a Gar­ri­son For­est res­i­dent.

“I’d de­scribe her as hav­ing the Mi­das touch,” said Ms. Gelin. “Ev­ery­thing she got in­volved with was suc­cess­ful —plus she had a way of draw­ing peo­ple to­gether, or peo­ple who were hurt­ing or needed some­thing. She truly had a heart of gold.”

The daugh­ter of James Peter Laz­zati, owner of James P. Laz­zati Co. util­i­ties­sup­ply busi­ness, and Rose­mary C. LeCompte, a home­maker, Joan Anne Laz­zati was born in Bal­ti­more as the fifth of 11 chil­dren, and was raised in North­wood.

In1955, her par­ents be­gan a Christ­mas tra­di­tion of send­ing a greet­ing card to fam­ily mem­bers and friends with a pho­to­graph of them­selves and their chil­dren — they had four chil­dren that in­au­gu­ral year — in front of the fam­ily fire­place, which had been dec­o­rated with stock­ings. Next year, she joined her fam­ily for the pic­ture, which they con­tin­ued for years.

In 2005, The Bal­ti­more Sun wrote an ar­ti­cle about the 50th an­niver­sary of the fam­ily’s tra­di­tion, and noted that in the early days, “Har­ried pho­tog­ra­phers raced to fin­ish be­fore the lit­tle boys started tear­ing off their bow ties.”

Ms. Laz­zati was a 1974 grad­u­ate of Mercy High School, then Villa Julie Col­lege, now Steven­son Univer­sity.

Af­ter ob­tain­ing a real es­tate li­cense, she worked dur­ing the 1980s in the Ti­mo­nium of­fice of Long & Fos­ter. She later worked as a real es­tate agent for the Turf Val­ley Over­look Homes de­vel­op­ment in Howard County, as well as for Mid-At­lantic Prop­er­ties in Tow­son and Gem Craft Homes, a builder in Delaware and Sal­is­bury.

In ad­di­tion to her real es­tate ca­reer, Ms. Laz­zati opened a Curves fit­ness cen­ter on 40th Street in Ham­p­den in 2004. She op­er­ated the busi­ness un­til sell­ing it in 2009.

“She worked as a trainer, signed peo­ple up and taught us ev­ery­thing,” Ms. Gelin said. “She’d even dress up on Hal­loween.”

“She was very kind and car­ing per­son with a big heart,” said Ap­ple Koeke­moer of North Roland Park, a long­time friend and Curves’ ac­coun­tant.

Ms. Laz­zati fell in love with Lance Preller, Ms. Gelin’s brother, who lived part time in Bal­ti­more and the rest of the year on Great Bar­rier Is­land in New Zealand, where he was build­ing a home and where the cou­ple hoped to own and op­er­ate a cafe.

“They knew each other and dated in high school, then mar­ried other peo­ple and then later got to­gether,” Ms. Gelin said. “Lance was the love of her life and vice versa. She spent quite a bit of time with him down there. She loved the beach and wa­ter.”

Mr. Preller, who owned a con­tract­ing busi­ness, died in 2004 in New Zealand.

“I think they were soul mates,” Ms. Gelin said. “I do know they found com­fort in one an­other.”

Di­ag­nosed with can­cer in 2008, Ms. Lazatti lived for the last eight years with a sis­ter in Perry Hall.

She was an ac­com­plished horse­woman who be­gan rid­ing when she was 7. She was also a dog lover who cared for stray dogs and boarded dogs of her friends when they trav­eled.

“She loved an­i­mals and horses, and she al­ways wanted to be a horse whis­perer — I thought she’d be a nat­u­ral one,” Ms. Gelin said.

A sis­ter, Rose­marie “Dodie” Laz­zati, of Perry Hall, said her sib­ling had many friend­ships lo­cally and in New Zealand and Florida.

“Joanie was al­ways ahead of her time. She was fast, strong, in­de­pen­dent and strong-willed, and would never have any­one tell her what to do,” she said. “She was very forth­right and had a big heart. She was kind and gen­er­ous to peo­ple.

She said her sis­ter also “had a dry sense of hu­mor and was quick-wit­ted.”

“Joan loved par­ties and she loved to dance,” Ms. Koek­er­moer said. “She lived her life to the fullest.”

A Mass of Chris­tian burial will be of­fered at 10 a.m. Fri­day at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Ro­man Catholic Church, Bal­ti­more and Ware av­enues, Tow­son.

In ad­di­tion to her sis­ter, Ms. Laz­zati is sur­vived by her mother, Rose­mary C. LeCompte Laz­zati of Tow­son; five brothers, James Laz­zati of Glyn­don, Joseph Laz­zati of Finks­burg, John Laz­zati of Up­perco, and Philip Laz­zati and Paul Laz­zati, both of Tow­son; four other sis­ters, Dolores Cowan of Up­perco, Mary Laz­zati of Perry Hall, Mar­garet Downs of Lau­rel and Vir­ginia Burgstiner of Bethany Beach, Del.; 13 nieces and neph­ews; and her boyfriend of 10 years, Chuck Ed­wards, an au­to­mo­bile whole­saler, of Lewes, Del. An ear­lier mar­riage ended in di­vorce. Joan Ann Laz­zati op­er­ated a fit­ness cen­ter in Ham­p­den from 2004 to 2009.

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