Obituary of Joan Betty Bauer
Joan Bauer known to friends and family as "Joanie" was born September 24, 1931. She was known for her feistiness, strong-will, loyalty, generosity, and humor. With deep self-pride and independent mind, she was tough and had her “own way” of doing things. If Joan hired a contractor to repair the furnace, mow the lawn, plow the driveway, fix the car... they’d better do the job well and for a fair price or else! She loved a good laugh! Her wit was sharp and her jokes off color. Her endless stories were life-based, hilarious, and always self-deprecating. Central to Joan's life were her family and friends. Too many to mention that we know of and far more that we do not! I know that you will forgive us for trying! She was the third youngest of eleven children and growing up during the Great Depression and World War II helped to shape her into the strong woman she became. On Amber Street the adjacent "Poisson [Poison], Sicke [Sick], and Dyen [Dying]" families had surplus children. A lifelong friend Betty would live behind their house, next street over. Many people were poor then. Like most children of that time and place, Joan and her brothers and sisters did what they could to help their families. She and sister Beverly sold their dad’s gladiolus flowers in the summer months outside of church on Sundays, an important financial resource for that time. Their dad Adelore was a carpenter, farmer, tool sharpener, and gardener who would overwinter gladiolas bulbs and win second place at the NY State Fair for the black gladiola that he had developed. Joan would warmly recall her dad whacking her with a soft rope of dough or calling her “Goopie”. Riding in the family car, Joan sat in the back seat by the window for when she would inevitably throw up! A picture from this time shows a cute little blond girl dressed as a cowboy riding on a (live) painted pony. Their mom Isabel was endlessly busy raising her children and maintaining their home. Her big sister Alice would star in the elementary school’s Christmas Holiday musical. Joan wanted to follow Alice but when old enough she was “only” picked to be a singing angel! Joan loved to sing throughout her life and had a lovely voice. She remembered "from heart" the words and melodies of songs from elementary and middle school, and the songs learned throughout her life which were never forgotten. Joan would write a note to herself that "of all the things I could do, I should have sung". From South Buffalo, her dad would build their family home on Michael Road in Orchard Park. Before the home was ready, Joan loved to recall how her sister Beverly pushed a buggy with baby, from South Buffalo to “take a look” and then had to walk back (no rides were offered)! The girls pulled nails to salvage wood from work sheds, from which their dad would build their new home, of shoveling coal, and babysitting younger brothers Dick and Gordon. She would recall happily how brother Leo would come home from WWII service and “toss her a quarter” to iron his clothes, and sadly how Leo died too young from injuries sustained in training. Joan loved to dance, roller skate, and bowl. There were many Jazz nightclubs for the young men and women of 1950s Buffalo. She fought tuberculosis in 1952 and 1953. Joan and sisters Alice and Beverly worked at Neisser’s and it is there she thought she was first exposed. At the tuberculosis sanatorium (different memories of whether she was at Meyer Memorial Hospital, Perrysburg or both) an African American friend taught her how to knit. She told of horrible medicines (the worst flushed down the sink!), of induced pneumothorax to speed healing, of strict but loving nurses, and of pranks played to raise the spirits of dying friends (you may know my mom’s story of the “Indian chiefess and her followers”). Here she met her lifelong friend Bea Golding. Upon leaving the sanitarium(s), she moved in with Bea and later with her brother Robert and her tiny sister-in-law Joyce. Around 1952, there is a wonderful picture of an uncle and aunt’s, 25th wedding anniversary. In this picture are her mom and dad, an already married Joyce and Robert, and couples Beverly and Rich, Joan with Michael Bauer, and other family. Mike thought he was a good dancer but “almost broke my mom’s ribs” when they danced together! Around this time, Joan became great friends with Ann and George Prenatt. She married Mike in 1953 and in 1955 they welcomed their only child Stephen. A picture from fall 1955 shows Ann Prenatt and Joan facing each other… with the sun setting over both the Niagara River and their very pregnant bellies! Joan loved to tell of the day before Stephen was born. She had been prescribed Demerol to “help her sleep”. That same evening, she was groggily calling Mike home from work, walking down 53 steps from a 3rd floor Elmwood Avenue apartment to their car, ranting crazily while running up and down the length of her birthing bed, and abusing Mike while he kept her safe! Joan thought she alone in the birthing room but later, a French American girl laughingly told her that twelve young women had enjoyed the show! In 1958, with a $600 loan from brother James ("Red"), the couple purchased their first and only home in Hamburg NY. She would live in this warm and tidy place for almost 62 years. The 1960s and 1970s were full of parties for Joan and Mike with the Lavelle couples, the Dysons, Kromkes, Acanforas, Fraziers... On Mike’s boat they would ride across Lake Erie to Crystal Beach, Strawberry Island, and have picnics at the Windmill and Sherkston quarries. There were endless games of Pinochle, Euchre, and penny poker with Kate Broadbent and Myrt, Jack, and George Graham. She learned golf from Myrt Graham and played for fun and friendship, rarely for score. Later in life, her brother Dick and neighbor friend Patti would be two of Joan’s good golf buddies. In the early 1970's, she learned to fly a CESSNA 140 airplane that Mike had rebuilt. The Lukichs, Bodnars, Hammonds, and McCarthys were trusted neighbors and friends. Mike worked at Bethlehem Steel for many years and always had a second job (to save up for hard times) repairing cars in his garage automotive shop. Joan began her working career in 1966 as a cafeteria monitor at Cloverbank Elementary. Called "JB" by her kids, from 1969-1985 Joan was bus driver for the Frontier Central school district. Here many treasured friendships formed with other drivers such as Norma, Katie, and Donna. In 1975 Mike and Joan stood up for Karl (Mike’s half-brother) and Linda Bauer’s wedding. In 1977, Mike died of a heart attack at age 49 and in 1978 Joan would write to herself, "and now, I have finally grown up". Joan regretted dropping out of high school and later earned her GED. Joan was very smart though. In the early 1980s, she took classes at Hilbert College to become a nurse. She never finished her degree but worked hard and scored good grades. She proudly remembered instructors asking her “not to answer all the questions” (so that the other students would be on the spot) and of younger students asking her for help. Joan began working at Erie BOCES in 1985 as an administrative secretary and in 1993 she retired. In 1990, Stephen welcomed his only child Sebastian. Joan was delighted to meet her grandson and was a wonderfully supportive grandmother! She proudly reflected on Sebastian’s character and accomplishments. Joan loved to have fun and stayed active. Her home and property were always well maintained and her home meticulously clean (second only to her sister Beverly!). A frugal gambler, she frequented casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Finger Lakes and locally, mostly to enjoy the company of Norma Prusak and other dear friends. She sang in a chorus to entertain elders around the Buffalo area into her 80's. She would sometimes volunteer to prepare and serve holiday meals at churches and at soup kitchens. She enjoyed knitting and made many Afghans and scarves for family members and especially their newborns. An avid writer, Joan’s cards were carefully chosen to fit the recipient and occasion and carried love and joy to family and friends - cards (off color again!) often left the reader laughing! An avid reader, Joan tried to devote an hour a day to a good book. She read the Buffalo News cover to cover to stay abreast of local, regional, and national issues. In recent years she traveled less but cherished long phone conversations and lunch dates with her son and grandson, nieces, and nephews, and especially Diane, Ricky, and Cheryl & Roger. She met and came to love Sebastian’s partner Eliza. For more than 20 year’s Candy Golding (Bea’s daughter) sent long hand-written lovely Christmas letters to Joan and Joan would write back in kind. My mom treasured these Christmas letters… thank you Candy! Her sister’s-in-law Nancy Burger and Nancy Berry, and Mary Ragusa were other good friends. Joan was a solid competitor at senior pinocle clubs. She cooked Buffalo, Polish and German staples and among family favorites were her stuffed cabbage, pigs in a blanket, minced salads, and almond (poppyseed, cherry-nut) coffee cakes. Meals with family were followed by cards, wine, and conversation. Joan died March 27, 2021… my mom, Sebastian’s grand mom, Mike’s wife, sister, sister-in-law, daughter, and friend to many will be deeply missed. Love you mom! Love you grandma! The Bauer Family wishes to thank our dear family and friends for the Masses Offered in Joan’s memory. Bauer, Joan Betty “JB” (nee Poisson) passed on March 27, 2021 of Hamburg NY. Beloved wife of the late Michael; devoted mother of Stephen (Linda Elsaesser); special friend of Cecelia Rosiek; devoted grandmother of Sebastian (Eliza Hunter); loving sister of Beverly (late Rich) Barren, Dick (Nancy and the late Irene), Gordon (Debbie and the late Sylvia), predeceased by the late Lorraine (late George) Miller, Leo (late Noreen), James “Red”, Alice, Robert (late Joyce), Jackie (late Dudley) Gahan and the late Robert; daughter of the late Adelore and late Isabel Poisson; special friend of the late Pauline and late Edward Lamb; loving aunt and great aunt to many beloved nieces and nephews; also survived by many dear and close friends. A Committal Service will take place Sat. June 26th, 2021 at Woodlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Read to Succeed, Habitat for Humanity, and Feed More WNY.