Last night (March 18, 2017) my family said goodbye to this amazing lady, Joan Handal Ailes. Thirty-two years ago, she married my dad. I have known her all my life. Joan and my mother were roommates in New York in the 1950’s, when my mom was in college. I have heard many, many stories of those days. They lived on Madison Avenue in a small walk-up apartment over a restaurant called, yes, “Hamburger Heaven,” which was across the street from the Gabor Salon. You could imagine. They both ended up working at McGraw Hill.
ul and Jean.
Then my family moved to California and Hawaii and Virginia and I didn’t see her for many years. In the midst of those years both my dad and Joan were sadly widowed and carried on raising their children on their own.
In 1981, Dad took command of the Navy Lab in Newport, RI (in those days called the Navy Underwater Systems Center) and they reconnected. Joan lived in Connecticut and Dad lived in Rhode Island. Between them they had five kids and they were both extremely practical. The five kids, though, well, we thought it was a great match and I can still remember us meeting up at a restaurant in Connecticut, just the five kids, to muse how long it would take for them to tie the knot. But tie-the-knot they did and for thirty-two years.
Paul wrote today about Mom Joan, “No one shall ever forget your incredible sacrifices and the never ending love and care you gracefully gave us.” Mom Joan was an amazing woman. My dad has been telling me truly great stories of her life and accomplishments. Inspiring! But one thing was absolutely unwaverable—her devotion to her blended family. There was nothing more important to her. And she was a wonderful wife to my dad.
It is hard to say goodbye. We all gathered with her last night and prayed, and sang, and told funny stories. But it was still hard to say goodbye. One of her legacies though is that she and my dad put together a family and I am so blessed to have them all in my life. So Mom Joan, thank you. Thank you for marrying Dad. Thank you for putting together this family. May we show how grateful we are by making you proud.