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It all came down to creative accounting.
If you asked Joan Alesi Eckert how she managed to graduate from Kutztown High School in 1949, her answer was always straightforward. And entertaining. With a shrug and a crooked smile, she’d say, “I had Charlie do my books for me.”
After all, her commercial education track classmate Charlie Eckert – they met when they were all of 16 – was downright smitten with her. He was happy to help. She was even happier to pass.
And so began a partnership that would last seven decades: They went on their first date Dec. 31, 1948, and were married by April 7, 1951, at the tender age of 19. “We were two dumb kids,” both would say, “who didn’t have two nickels to rub together.”
But somehow, they endured. Bickering, always. Stubbornly clinging, even more. Right up to the end, in fact: Charlie died Oct. 28, 2018, and Joan followed a week later, on Nov. 4, in Good Samaritan Hospice in Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey.
Born Nov. 22, 1931, in Reading, the first member of her family to be delivered in a hospital, Joan was the daughter of Emidio and Rose (Kopfer) Alesi, the middle child between sister Betty and brother Billy. After growing up in Evansville, she made her way to Kutztown for high school.
There, she and Charlie fell into each other’s orbits, and began a lifetime of togetherness.
They built their home just outside Sinking Spring, moving in on Aug. 1, 1960, and raising daughters Linda and Laura there. They worked with a steadfast group of friends on every class reunion committee. Both were heavily involved on various boards and committees at Green Valley Country Club. When Charlie was elected a supervisor in their home of Lower Heidelberg Township, Joan worked right alongside him.
A member of the chorus in high school, Joan had an enduring love of music. In their youth, she and Charlie could often be found dancing the night away with friends and family to the likes of Benny Goodman, the Dorsey Brothers, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra at the SunnyBrook Ballroom in Pottstown. Throughout her life, music always had to be playing in her house – all the better if she could needle Charlie by singing along, loudly and off-key.
She also enjoyed gardening and bird-watching, and built an extensive collection of bird figurines and ornaments her daughters and granddaughter added to regularly. Enough, in fact, that one year an overburdened – overbirded? – Christmas tree toppled down on her. (And, yes, Charlie knew better than to get caught laughing.)
Joan is survived by her daughters, Linda J. Corcoran of Moorestown, New Jersey, and Laura A. Thompson of Mount Joy, as well as, sons-in-law Kevin W. Corcoran and Brian S. Thompson. There is also her cherished granddaughter, Kelly E. Corcoran of Helsinki, Finland. Also surviving are sisters-in-law Yvonne (Hauser) Alesi of Kutztown and Sebring, Fla., and Eleanor (Eckert) Graupp of Exeter, as well as several nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Chapel of Resurrection at Gethsemane Cemetery, 3139 Kutztown Road, (Muhlenberg Township) Reading, PA.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice, Attn: Development Office, 5 Eves Drive, Ste. 300, Marlton, NJ 08053, or online at www.SamaritanNJ.org.
Stitzel Family Funeral Homes & Crematory, Inc., Laureldale, is in charge of arrangements.
For online condolences, visit StitzelFamilyFuneralHomes.com
Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice
5 Eves Drive, Suite 300, Marlton NJ 08053