May They Rest in Peace: Joan Elizabeth Desmond

Joan Desmond’s light was bright. Her spirit generous. She deeply touched those she met.

Joan loved family and friends, food and fun. She was a daughter, sister, cousin and aunt, fiercely loving and supporting her brothers and their families.

Joansie was a loyal and generous friend to many, from grade school and high school friends, former colleagues, and neighbors to the nurses who assisted her these last two years.

Funeral Mass will be on Monday, April 8, 2019, at 11 a.m., in state at 10:30 a.m., at St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church, 2215 Opdyke, Bloomfield Hills.
Joan Desmond

Joan was a reader, thinker and listener. She was a mentor, to neighbors, colleagues, students and friends. She was committed to social justice.

Joan was a gracious hostess who always shared delicious food and drink, inspiring conversation and a memorable time.

Sharing herself from the get-go, Joan and her twin John were born on May 15, 1945 to Dorothy and Al Desmond. An active student, she graduated from St. Benedict’s Grade School in Highland Park and Immaculata High School in Detroit. She entered the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan after high school, (Sister Michael Mary). She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College and her masters from the University of Detroit.

Joan was a woman ahead of her time. She was a high school athlete and championship high school basketball coach, before Title IX. She was the first, and as far as we know only, nun to graduate from the Detroit Police Academy. This earned her such nicknames as Nun with a Gun and Sr. Fuzz. She left the convent in 1980.

Joan worked in Catholic education throughout her life. She worked at Immaculata High School, St. Stephen’s Mission on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, Marian High School in Bloomfield Hills, University of Detroit Jesuit High School, St. Agatha and St. Clement grade schools in Chicago, and she retired from Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois. No matter the school or position, Joan connected with students and colleagues in profound and inspiring ways.

She also worked with her brothers Terry and John at A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors.

Joan loved Lake Huron. An avid water skier as a teenager near North Lakeport, she later on walked the beach and watched freighters near Lexington. She loved Motown music. She enjoyed traveling. She followed the Detroit Tigers steadfastly and put up with Notre Dame football. Joan grilled, always charcoal. Very importantly, Joan was a keeper of the family sauce recipe.

No matter where she lived, she was a caring neighbor. Joan gave without ever counting the cost.

Twenty-five months ago, Joan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unwilling to be defined by cancer, she was often private about her struggles. During this time, Joan fought with grace, dignity and bravery and was grateful for the support of longtime friends as well as the new friends she made along the way. Until the end, she amazed her caretakers with her genuine concern and kindness towards them. Joan truly was a woman for others.

Joan Elizabeth Desmond passed away peacefully on Tuesday evening, April 2, 2019. A long-time resident of metro Detroit, she most recently resided in Chicago. Joan was the daughter of the late Dorothy M and Albert J. Desmond. She was the beloved sister of Terry & Betty Desmond, John & Eileen Desmond, Jim Desmond & Elisabeth Williams, Greg Desmond & Michael Segobiano and the late Tommy. She will forever be the favorite aunt of Margaret “Peggy” Desmond & Carlos Nunez, Tom Desmond & Angela Arno, Kathy & Scott Barr, Matt Desmond & Julie Hearne, Anne & Mike Zilvitis, Alison & Alex Krumm, Kyle & Lyndsey Desmond, Kevin & Katrina Desmond, Patrick & Kara Desmond, Lily Desmond and Louise Desmond and twenty-one great nieces and nephews. Joan is also survived by numerous and loving friends and relatives.

The family will receive friends on Sunday, April 7, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Home, 2600 Crooks Road, Troy, MI (between Maple and Big Beaver Roads).

The Funeral Mass will be on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 11:00 a.m., in state at 10:30 a.m., at St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic Church, 2215 Opdyke, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Memorial tributes to Albert J. and Dorothy M. Desmond Family Scholarship at U of D Jesuit High School, 8400 South Cambridge, Detroit, MI 48221, IHM Sisters, 610 West Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162, or Detroit Christo Rey High School, 5679 West Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48209.

View obituary and share memories at