Former teacher Joan Passalacqua dies at 80
Joan Passalacqua, a Healdsburg elementary school teacher and matriarch of a well-known legal family, has died. She was 80.
Passalacqua taught at Alexander Valley Elementary School from the mid-1960s to about 1970 and was at Westside
Elementary School until her retirement in 1987.
The lawyer’s wife raised seven children. Among them were three attorneys, including Stephan Passalacqua, who served as Sonoma County’s district attorney from 2003 to 2011, and his brothers, Richard Passalacqua of Healdsburg and Joseph Passalacqua of Windsor.
“She was a pretty amazing lady.” said Rich Passalacqua. “She raised us all and worked full-time.”
Joan Margaret Carroll was born in San Francisco in 1932. Her father, William, was a pharmacist. Her mother, Elinor, was a teacher.
Her family had a summer cabin on Healdsburg’s Fitch Mountain, where she met her future husband, Emil Passalacqua, who died in 1995. He hailed from a large pioneer family that counted first-cousin and former Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Frank Passalacqua among its members.
In 1950, the Carrolls moved to Healdsburg. Her father opened a pharmacy on Healdsburg Avenue.
She attended Santa Rosa Junior College before transferring to University of California in Berkeley, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree. She got a teaching credential at Dominican College in San Rafael.
She got married in 1955 and began raising her family. She started working in the classroom continuously about 10 years later, Rich Passalacqua said.
“Having six boys and one girl, she went to more sporting events than you can imagine,” her son said. “She was always there, supporting us.”
When she wasn’t teaching, she played the piano, sang and read. She enjoyed visiting Bodega Bay and barbecues on the Russian River. Her dog, Bogey, was a constant companion.
In her retirement, she traveled to Europe, visiting Ireland and Italy.
“She was proud of her Irish heritage,” Rich Passalacqua said. “She married into an Italian family and she let everyone know we were half-Irish.”
In August, she celebrated her 80th birthday with a large family gathering.
She battled lung cancer but remained active, going to lunch with friends, until about two months ago. She died at her Healdsburg home Nov. 30.
In addition to Rich, Joe and Stephan Passalacqua, she is survived by four other children: Brian Passalacqua of Reno, Elinor Jane Senn of Healdsburg, Matt Passalacqua of Healdsburg and Jeffrey Passalacqua of Modesto. She is also survived by her brother, Col. William Carroll, and six grandchildren.
A funeral Mass is 11 a.m. Friday at St. John’s Catholic Church, Healdsburg.
— Paul Payne