Joan A. Lazzati
Real estate professional and fitness center owner was known for her kind heart and quick wit
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.