Our kind, fiercely loving and adored mother, Joanne Clarke, a longtime resident of Gilbertsville, NY, passed away Thursday, September 15, 2016, with her family around her, at her home.
She was born Joanne Fortune Ruocco on March 23, 1941, to Joseph and Marguerite Ruocco in Brooklyn, NY. Her family moved to Gloversville, NY when Joanne was 12 and she graduated from Gloversville High School in 1958.
She attended SUCO in Oneonta, NY, where she was a standout in college stage productions, most notably as “Ado Annie” in “Oklahoma.” She graduated with a teaching degree in 1963. Through the years she continued to expand her degree certification by taking countless classes and attending conferences.
On November 30, 1963, Joanne and John Howard (Howie) Clarke Jr. were married. They resided in Bainbridge, NY and Joanne taught special education at Bainbridge Guilford School for a time.
They then moved to Gilbertsville in 1965 to raise their ever-growing, boisterous family.
She taught second grade and GED at Gilbertsville Central School for the next 30 years and was often a chaperone for senior class and Rotary Foreign Exchange Student trips across the United States. Her role as director of the high school student-teacher and village dramatic productions, village holiday parades, including the July children’s costume and pet parade, and 4th of July children games, generated memories that are cherished fondly by family, friends, performers and spectators alike. Many of her former students remember her warmly as “firm but fun” and as having had a strong positive influence in their own lives. Her caramel popcorn balls were requested every year by Gilbertsville trick or treaters for Halloween.
After retiring from Gilbertsville Central School in 1994, Joanne moved to Anguilla in the British West Indies, where she taught second grade for two more years.
Her next move was to San Simon, AZ, where she became the sixth, seventh and eighth grade science instructor and girls basketball coach on the Tohono O’odham Reservation for the next 10 years. Her encyclopedic collection of educational materials and devotion to cultivating a deeper knowledge of the world, sparked a similar enthusiasm in her students.
Her eventual retirement brought her back to Gilbertsville, where she continued her community involvement, including being a member of the Gilbertsville Free Library Board and Major’s Inn Foundation.
Joanne’s garden was her great joy and gave her even more opportunity to educate and delight visitors and family on the diverse plants and flowers that overflowed and brightened her yard and home.
She is survived by children, Blaise (Sue) Clarke, Justin Clarke, Kathleen (Marty Smith) Clarke, Christine Clarke, Aaron Clarke and Rachel (Scott McCarthy) Clarke; grandsons, Casey Smith and Ryan Smith; granddaughters, Emma Clarke, Kegan Clarke, Sarah Clarke, Brenna Clarke, Shauna Abbrederis and Kristen Abbrederis; brother, Anthony Ruocco; sisters, Marguerite (Royce) Webster and Ann Michele Ruocco; her aunt, Susan (William) VonAtzingen; sister-in-law, Marie Wetmore; and 27 nieces and nephews; her “glass of wine and a chat” dear friends, Jackie Foster and Kim Corcoran; and her “Monday Update” buddy, Steve Hughes.
She was predeceased by her former husband, Howie Clarke; brothers, Robert and Joseph Ruocco.
There will be a celebration of life at The Major’s Inn in Gilbertsville, NY at noon, Wednesday, September 21, followed by lunch and fellowship. As Joanne would have wished, the Clarkes will be cooking.
The Clarke Family extend their heartfelt thanks to: Dr. Matsuo and nurses, Theresa, Regina, Brenda, Becky, and Sarah; her attentive nurses and attendants, Jamie, Kelli, Kristy and Rose from Brooklyn, and Catskill Area Hospice for making our mom feel comfortable and cherished as her family gathered.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Joanne’s name to the Gilbertsville Free Library, Gilbertsville Emergency Squad or Major’s Inn Foundation.
Condolences and memories may be shared online at www.landersfh.com. Arrangements are under the direction of C.H. Landers Funeral Chapel, Sidney.