Joan McCarthy

Obituary of Joan R. McCarthy

In Loving Memory of Joan McCarthy


Joan Ruth McCarthy (nee Stewart) beloved, wife, grandmother, mother, and sister, quietly and peacefully passed away on July 8, 2023, in Saint Paul Minnesota.  She was born April 30, 1934, to Ruth (nee Ingram) and Graham Stewart in Toronto, Ontario.


She left an indelible mark on the world. With her quick wit and unwavering spirit.  She was a force to be reckoned with.  It is with deep sadness that we announce her passing, but we also celebrate the vibrant life she lived.


Joan possessed a creative spirit with a love of sewing, cooking, decorating, reading and an insatiable curiosity. She was always ready for a spirited debate, never shying away from engaging in discussions on any topic. Her passion for intellectual discourse was matched only by her remarkable ability to make fast friends with anyone she met.


Beyond her intellectual pursuits, Joan had a heartwarming affection for her family and friends. She was fiercely loyal to those she loved. She had an incredible collection of fond and wild stories that she eagerly shared, bringing laughter and joy to all who listened. She could regale you with tales of family adventures.  Her knowledge of hockey was also profound. Her ability to bridge generations and connect with people from all walks of life was truly extraordinary.


Joan grew up in Toronto and was married to William McCarthy on April 4, 1954. She was married to Bill for 63 years until his passing in 2017.  Her family involvement with her 8 siblings, Carole, Phyllis, Dianne, Tom, Nancy, Doug, Mike, and John, was always important to her and allowed her many rich and meaningful experiences.  She was nicknamed ‘Sergeant Major’ by her brothers and sisters in response to her ‘in charge’ character.  Raising 3 children in Toronto, she was always on the go to sporting events and community functions.


In 1982 she and her husband Bill, along with their daughter Patty, followed her sons Tom and Bill to Minnesota eventually opening “Just for the Halibut,” a unique fish and chip restaurant in Minneapolis.  It was here that many people were able to get the full ‘Joan experience’ when she would welcome them to the restaurant and her life, sharing her opinions and making sure they were on the right path.  With a cigarette in hand (directly under the non-smoking sign) she would engage in heartfelt conversations, lending an empathetic ear and sharing her opinions while making meaningful connections with her customers. Her ability to make everyone feel at home and valued was a testament to her gregarious nature.


Joan was born with a natural ability to welcome others and care for them.  As the oldest of 9 children or when taking care of the people at the Randolph Apartments, her genuine smile and personality made all those in her company comfortable and happy to be one of Joan’s many friends.  She touched all those in her daily life, especially her 3 children, Bill (Susan), Tom (Tina) and Patricia Millard (Steve).  Her eyes lit up when she was with her 5 grandchildren Catherine Duffy (Ciarán), Allison Carlson (Kevin), Rebecca Jones (Robert), Jonathan and Matthew Millard and 5 great grandchildren, Finnian, Blaire and Banks Jones and Mark and Charlie Carlson.   


Joan kept in contact with her family and many friends even though separated by many miles.  She lived her last 5 years with her daughter Patty and her family enriching their lives with her warm personality and presence, a gift that she was always willing to share with those around her.  Her trips to the casino were also a highlight of her time in Minnesota. 


Joan is survived by her children, Bill and Patty, her grandchildren, great grandchildren and her siblings, Phyllis Stephens (Bryan), Dianne Stephens, Nancy Koehle (Larry), Douglas Stewart (Heather), Michael Stewart (Roz) and John Stewart (Brackey).


Joan was preceded in death by husband Bill, son Tom, parents, Ruth, and Graham, two siblings, Carole Stebel and Tom Stewart, brothers in law, Paul Stebel, Terry Stephens, and sister-in-law Sharon Stewart.  


As we bid farewell to Joan, let us remember her for the vibrant, opinionated, and curious person she was. Her zest for life, her ability to find joy in the simplest of moments, and her unwavering determination to understand new perspectives which will forever be etched in our hearts.


A special thank you to the caring staff of the 2500 unit at United Hospital in St. Paul, MN.  At Joan’s request, there are no services planned.

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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service - Grand Avenue Chapel
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