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JOANNE MCNEILL


1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Flowers
JOANNE MCNEILL Obituary
JOANNE MCNEILL Joanne McNeill, gifted pianist, teacher and vibrant force of nature, passed away March 8, 2017. Born Nov. 15, 1928, in Rochester, N.Y., Joanne began teaching piano at age 12 and performing on live radio at age 14. She taught for 66 years, enriching many lives. A bright student, Joanne skipped two grades, graduating at 16. At 18, she was hired by Los Alamos, N.M. schools to start a music education program. There she met and married Raymond McNeill, with whom she had three daughters. They relocated to Las Vegas in 1952 for Ray's work. Following their divorce, Joanne opened a thriving piano studio there. In 1967, Joanne moved to the Bay Area, which she loved, opening studios in Livermore and San Francisco. She continued teaching in Livermore until 2003, when she moved to Berkeley and taught adult students there until 2010. Joanne was undaunted by challenges and able to think on a grand scale. She raised three little girls as a single mother in the 1950-60s, all of whom graduated from college, had professional careers and appreciated the rich cultural life to which she introduced them. Throughout her life, Joanne lived fully, was vivacious and glamorous, known for wearing designer gowns and hats that others would not be seen in and wore them fabulously. She loved to travel, venturing to New Orleans, Mykonos, Greece, an African safari, helicopter hiking in Canada, and once played Chopin's piano. Joanne loved teaching children, but as she grew older found joy teaching adults. She began a series of piano workshops the students from which soon became friends. Many went on to become a caring network for Joanne as she aged. Her friends were extraordinary. Even after the onset of dementia, Joanne remained her feisty self for many years and adored listening to music until the day she died. Her departure moves a star on Earth up to the sky. Joanne was preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Arlene Connal; her brother, Robert P. Connal Jr. and his wife, Doris; and her sister, Betty Ott Aldrich. She will be missed by her daughters, Ginny McNeill Cebe (Jim), Margot McNeill Bellucci and Mary McNeill; and her grandsons, Thomas and Patrick Bellucci, and Michael McNeill-Martinez. Joanne is survived by dear friends, too many to mention, but we extend our deepest gratitude to Kathy Chase, Genene Hill, Nardn Kobayashi and Robert and Marilyn Kukuck, all of whom went above and beyond. The family is grateful to those who cared for Joanne when her needs were the greatest, including the entire staff at Aegis of Las Vegas. We particularly thank Leticia Nino and Wilma Campomanes there for their many years of loving care. We will forever be indebted to Carlos Salazar of Aegis for his exquisite care and kindness to our family and to hospice nurse, Peggy Anger, who always advocated for the best possible care for Joanne. A celebration of Joanne's life will be held in the Bay Area in the coming months. Email mary@mcneillfamilylaw.com for details. You can best honor Joanne by supporting music education.
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