Joan H. CarraraJoan H. Carrara passed away on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, with her devoted husband, Joseph, and her two children, Stacey and David, at her side. She was 76 years old.

Joan Grace Hawkins was born on July 19, 1941, in Orlando, Fla., to Phyllis Dietrich Hawkins of Iowa and Warren Hawkins of Minnesota. The family soon after settled in Buchanan, Mich., where Joan grew up and where she made many dear, lifelong friends. She graduated with a B.A. in art and music from Western Michigan University in 1963, which led to a position teaching middle school art in New York State. Joan gave up her teaching career to raise her children and was a dedicated stay-at-home mom. Family was her priority. She continued to pursue her love of music during this time by teaching piano. She helped many a beginner find their feet and encouraged a few to strive further, organizing annual recitals for them. Ever personable and endearing, she kept in touch with several of her students throughout her life.

Joan had many hobbies and talents – she could draw well, she loved knitting, she played the piano well – but her real passion was singing. She sang in her church choirs – for 20 years at the United Methodist Church of Wappingers Falls, where she and Joe lived and raised their family, and since 1998 at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Va., where Joan and Joe had gone to retire. Joan also very proudly sang as an alto in several choral groups, most notably the Cappella Festiva Chamber Choir in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the Oratorio Society of Virginia, both of which were a continual source of joy and pleasure.

From Joan and Joe's first cross-country road trip in 1965 to see the great parks of the western United States, Joan's desire to see other places and experience other cultures never waned. They explored much of the South from their home in Charlottesville. They went back to Michigan for reunions and to see old friends, revisited New England frequently and enjoyed numerous trips abroad to Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. A family trip to Spain to see Barcelona and the Costa Brava last year was halted only by the onset of her illness.

Throughout her battle with lymphoma, Joan received an incredible amount of support from her many friends, her extended family, her church family and her choral group. The countless well wishes, prayers and cards were a blessing to her and were very much appreciated.

Joan is survived by her husband, Joe; her daughter, Stacey; her son, David; her daughter-in-law, Frances; and her five grandchildren: Maxine (14), Julian (14), Vivian (11), Gabriel (4) and Theodora (2).

A funeral service will be held for Joan at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Va., on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at 12:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity in Joan's name.

Feel free to contact the church for more information or to leave a personal condolence by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or calling 434-973-5806.

It was Joan's wish to be cremated and to have her ashes scattered over Lake Michigan.