Joan Lewis

A private memorial event

is planned for a future date.

Obituary of Joan Lewis





On Sunday, August 5, 2018 in Long Term Care at Belmont House, Toronto, at the age of 81.  Born in New Jersey, she loved school and devoted herself to her education.  She attended Vassar College and ultimately graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.   She received a Master’s Degree in library science from Rutgers University and, for a time, worked to establish library resources at the Matheny School for children with developmental disabilities.   She lived for five years in Japan, where her first husband, Dr. John T. Hart, was an Air Force Physician at a military base near Tokyo.  Her two children, Elisabeth (Lisa) and Christopher, were born there.  After returning to New Jersey, she volunteered with organizations established to fight poverty and advance civil rights, including the Urban League.  After her divorce in 1978, she married John M. Lewis of Toronto and moved to Toronto.  There she continued to do volunteer work, including as a member of the board of the Dixon Hall Music School.  Although she moved permanently to Canada, she was a passionate American who spent several weeks each year on Sanibel Island and considered it her second home. 


She will be remembered for her sharp wit, sense of humour and fashion sense. A photograph of her was featured in the NY Time style edition in 1969 and she was profiled, for her personal style choices, in Toronto Life magazine in her 40s.   There wasn’t any woman alive who could pick out better ties for the men in her life.  She will also be remembered for her love of literature, music, Broadway musicals, baseball, tennis and her abiding love of animals, including the cats and dogs, many of them strays, which she cared for during her life.  Very few of her children, step-children and grandchildren will forget her strict insistence on the proper use of English words, grammar and pronunciation (e.g. “unique” means one of a kind so don’t ever say “very unique”).   A long-time supporter of Dying with Dignity, it is unfortunate that the last years of her life were marred by the inevitable progression of dementia.  If she could have summed up this experience herself we believe that she would say that we, as a society, within the bounds of respecting personal choice, need to find a better way to deal with such debilitating diseases until we find cures.


She leaves behind her husband; her daughter and son; her grandson Connor; her step-children Eve, Suzanne, Catherine, Duncan, Michelle and Nicole and their children.  The family would like to thank her care-givers Margaret, Analyne, Haydee and Purita as well the staff of Belmont House for the compassionate care they provided to her.   The family is planning a private memorial event for a future date.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alzheimer Society Canada or the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through

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