It is a testament to the vivacity of Joanne Mae Ash Schneller Green that her death at age 90, on June 4, comes as a total shock to all who love her. And that is a lot of people.
Born March 22, 1931, she was adopted at three days old by Norman and Mabel Ash of Catasauqua, PA. Joanne’s first heartbreak was Mabel’s death, when Joanne was only 12. She married Robert John Schneller in December 1953, moved into his childhood home, and had three children, Robert, Johanna and Anne, whom she loved ferociously. Robert Sr. struggled with mental illness, but Joanne kept everything rolling: She took secretarial courses and became an executive assistant and a paralegal. (In the evenings, she’d watch TV with her kids and fill notebook after notebook with beautiful, looping shorthand.) She discovered Julia Child and Craig Claiborne early, and made sensational meals, including at the family cabin in the Poconos, with the world’s tiniest kitchen. She loved a holiday – she hung decorations even for Presidents’ Day -- and made each one epic. An elegant dresser, she had a standing hair appointment every Friday, and on weeknights she’d go to bed with pink hair tape holding her kiss curls in place. When she came home from work, she’d make a beeline for the wall phone in the kitchen, trailing the long cord behind her as she cooked and talked. She had lifelong friends (especially Bev Corkhill, Judy Kraynick and Sandy Latshaw) and she struck up spirited conversations with strangers. (On errands, her children would beg her, “Mom, please don’t talk.” She always talked.) She planted a peony garden that smelled like heaven; chatted to her dogs as if they were people; knew the lyrics to every Big Band song; was an indefatigable shopper; loved a cold vodka gimlet; played crackerjack bridge with pals every week for 30 years; waterskied without getting her hair wet; and was the first and last person on any dance floor. Her mind was fleet and her plate was full, so she could be impatient or quick to anger. But if you made her laugh, she’d come around. She married Jacob Adam Green in November 1976, moved to Bethlehem, and gratefully folded his large, lively family into her life. They threw grand bashes by their backyard pool (musicians! magicians! signature cocktails!), played golf, traveled the world, and set up a second home in Boca Raton, FL. After Jake died in September, 2004, Joanne moved to Florida full-time, and gathered a new group of friends around her, including her dear companion of many years, Robert King, who died in 2020, and her great friend Ron Stone. From her final home in the St. Andrews community, she doted on her grandchildren Zach Schneller, Noah Schneller, Hayley Brown and Walker Brown, and treated her family to extravagant vacations, including a villa in Tuscany and a river cruise on the Danube. She’d already booked a waterfront house for her family for this coming Christmas. The Covid year was not fun for her, but she sailed through, and lately was happily re-filling her social calendar. (Her last words to Anne were, “Honey, I hate to cut you short, but I’m late for bridge.”) She always said she wanted to die suddenly and painlessly, without a decline, and damn if she didn’t make that happen, too. Friends at St. Andrews nicknamed her Tiny Bubbles, after her favorite drink, Perrier Jouet. The world is flatter without her.
Friends are welcome at Joanne’s Celebration of Life, 11 AM on Saturday, June 12 in the auditorium at St. Andrews, 6152 N. Verde Trail, Boca Raton, FL 33433. A guard at the gate will direct you. Attendees must show proof of full Covid vaccination, or else agree to be rapid-tested in your car; please bring a cellphone and prepare to wait at least 15 minutes for the results. A second service will be held in Bethlehem, PA on June 19; details are pending. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the ASPCA.
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