Cover photo for Joan Monaghan's Obituary
Joan Monaghan Profile Photo

Joan Monaghan

February 4, 1942 — May 3, 2023

Joan Clare Monaghan, 81, passed away on Wednesday May, 3 in Kalispell Montana.

Joan was born in Missoula, Montana, February 4, 1942.  Missoula was dear to Joan’s heart where she attended all levels of schooling from primary school through to the University of Montana. Her grandmother was very special to her, as was her childhood home on Keith Ave, a place she longed for throughout her life and especially in her last years.  She made lifelong friends during early childhood, who continued to gather each summer in Missoula throughout their adult lives.  Joan was an avid Montana Grizzly football fan and a lifetime season ticket holder.

As a young child, Joan was a CampFire girl who enjoyed summer at Camp Paxson on Seeley Lake.  Later on, Joan’s children would attend summer track camps at the same Camp Paxson, and she would camp nearby across the river.  As a young woman, Joan was active in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at the University of Montana.  While Joan was studying at the university to become a teacher, she met a handsome and driven University of Montana law student, Thomas Monaghan.   Joan and Tom were married in Missoula and moved to Helena where Tom clerked for Chief Justice James T. Harrison and Joan taught elementary school.

Following Tom’s clerkship, he was offered a job with Lucas and Jardine, later Lucas and Monaghan.  Joan’s love of the mountains was temporarily set aside as the young couple moved to the flat prairie of Miles City.  In Miles City, they first bought a small house and welcomed three girls, Kathleen, Ann, and Molly.  Later, they moved to a corner home at Wibaux Park and welcomed son Michael.  She made great friends in Miles City, and, for many years, enjoyed a bridge group, where sometimes she had “good cards” and sometimes she had “bad cards”, but the talk and laughter were always good.

Joan’s children were her focus and most important pursuit.   She cheered along at basketball games, track meets, and football games.  Math contests, piano recitals, and dropping off pizza for football film review sessions were just a few of Joan’s children’s activities she supported.

While Joan invested countless hours in her children, she found time to serve on the local school board, for many years serving as the board chairman.  Joan worked tirelessly to improve the schools, balance budgets, and negotiate teacher contracts.

Joan was a kind and loyal caregiver to her husband Tom who was stricken with cancer for seven years and passed away at age 61.  Following Tom’s death, Joan sold the family home in Miles City and moved back to her mountains, this time in Kalispell.

This was an opportunity for Joan to spend time with her beloved grandchildren.  Joan spent hours with her daughter Molly’s four boys, David, Silas, Michael and Nelson.  She played games and taught them how to read and do math problems.  Joan was also fortunate to have twice a year week-long visits with Kathleen’s two children, Natalie and Nathan, as well as summer outings to Glacier Park with daughter Ann.   Countless hours of hand and foot were played between Joan and her grandchildren. As they had done in Miles City, Michael and Joan made it a yearly tradition to put up outdoor Christmas decorations

Her time in Kalispell was a time to make good friends hiking in Glacier Park and to connect one after another with childhood friends who seemed to drift back to the Missoula and Flathead Valley area.  She loved her trips to Missoula for football games, walks through the beautiful maple lined University district and being silly with maple tree seeds stuck to her nose.

In recent years, her memory faded, and she spent a year in Butte at The Springs Assisted Living near her daughter, Ann, who cared for her and took her for outings while Kathleen and Michael made visits. Recently, Joan returned to Kalispell, living at Edgewood memory care.  On her last day, Joan sat in the warm spring sunshine for lunch, had an afternoon outing to Lawrence Park, followed by massage and then passed quietly sleeping in her recliner that evening during a beautiful Flathead Valley sunset.

Joan is survived by Kathleen Monaghan (Jim Jorgenson), Ann Freeman (Jason), Molly Schwarz (John), and Michael Monaghan, in addition to grandchildren David Schwarz, Natalie Jorgenson, Michael Schwarz, Nathan Jorgenson, Nelson Schwarz, and niece Amanda Colavolpe and family.  She is preceded in death by her husband, Tom Monaghan, and grandson Silas Schwarz.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:

Attn: Joan Monaghan care appreciation fund

%Edgewood Memory Care

141 Interstate Lane

Kalispell, MT 59901

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