New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Joan Morton O’Neill died peacefully at the Connecticut Hospice on September 29, 2021 after many years of illness with autoimmune disease. She was so grateful for the love, joy, and 56 years of marriage that she shared with her husband Theodore J. O’Neill. Their two children, Theodore L. (Etsuko Nakamura) and Laura M. (Patrick Nauseda) constantly brought joy and pride to her life. Joan was born April
16, 1942, the youngest of five children of Helen and Douglas Morton. She grew up on a farm in Fulton, New York, where she developed her love of nature and living things. With the help of scholarship aid she was able to attend D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. This environment offered her opportunities to explore new ideas and she graduated with a B.A. in Biology and a strong minor in Chemistry. She worked in medical research for two years but marriage and relocation to the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts created new challenges and opportunities. She soon found employment teaching Biology labs at Berkshire Community College, but like so many other young women, Joan began to compose a new career in her new setting. She became increasingly involved in early childhood education always focusing her energies on championing the needs of children with extraordinary talents and their families. She worked at the Austin Riggs Day School, the Children’s Health Program and Berkshire Country Day School. She completed advanced degrees in special education at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. After relocating to Connecticut, Joan continued to pursue her career in special education at several locations on the Connecticut shoreline, eventually retiring from the Yale School of Pediatric Medicine. While in the Berkshires, the family spent every moment it could in the beautiful outdoors and Joan was drawn into service on the Lenox Conservation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. She also served as a Director of the Massachusetts Audubon Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. In 1979, she and her family relocated to Madison. Joan found herself transported from a comfortable little country pond to the busy seaside of Long Island Sound. Their house abutted Madison Land Conservation Trust Property and that gave her the link she craved to nature and conservation-oriented people. She held many positions on the Trust. She also served on two Town Planning Advisory Committees and the Conservation Commission. Her work for land conservation garnered her two awards: the Jane R. Kuhl Award from the
Madison Historical Society and the Public Service Award from the Connecticut Secretary of State. Joan also served as a Director and President of the Scranton Library Friends. Joan once said of her life on the farm; “I was fortunate; it was there that I learned to be independent and go off on my own. Even at night, in the woods, I loved it. That’s where I felt closest to the source of all things, to God, and to other wonders. It’s in nature. There’s just so much beauty to be had.” Besides her husband and two children, Joan is survived by her sister, Mary Ettelson, of Laconia, New Hampshire and many nieces, nephews, cousins and brothers and sisters-in-law, all of whom were very dear to her as she was to them.
Calling hours will be held on Monday, Oct.4 from 4 till 7 p.m. at Swan Funeral Home, 825 Boston Post
Rd., Madison, CT 06443. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Joan may be made to the Madison Land Conservation Trust.