Josephine Maria Palermo was born on January 24th, 1926, in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. Joni, as most friends knew her, passed on painlessly to eternal life Monday evening, November 27th, 2017 at the age of 91. She is survived by her daughter, Debra Canty, grandchildren Jessica Laine, Spencer Hamilton, Caitlyn Hamilton, Karl Canty and his wife Paige, a great grandchild, Finnegan and, of course, her beloved feline Lucky who like all of us, was lucky to have shared in her seemingly unending love of life, laughter, and family.
Those that knew Joni will agree that she was one of the most vibrant, forthright, sharp, and truly honest individuals they had ever met. This adventurous spirit prompted her to leave her Bostonian home for Florida in the late 1960’s, build a home in Delray Beach (reportedly with “her bare hands”) and eventually settle on Sanibel in the summer of 1990. To the island, she brought her grandson Karl, who she proudly and selflessly raised from birth. “Gram”, as her grandchildren called her, became an island fixture chasing her grandchildren first through the halls of Sanibel Elementary and later, through high school, college, and beyond. A conservative child of the Great Depression and World War II, she passed on her careful yet consistent guidance to save, share, eat well, care for others, believe in yourself, and above all, “Watch your salt, honey!”
She was a long time nanny for many lucky families on the Island. One can barely remember Joni ever meeting an enemy, and she excelled at many things including a brutal efficiency at Gin Rummy, her holiday apple pie, tending her yard, predicting the outcome of Judge Judy episodes (97.3% accuracy), and most importantly, sharing her love, thoughtfulness, and honest caring with friends and family alike. Without fail, she always had a positive word to share and gave fair “tell-it-like-it-is” advice to anyone that was brave enough to ask (as so many were). Her ambitious and brave approach to life earned her many friends, admirers, and the deep loving respect of her family all of whom miss her very much.
Services will be held 11:00 a.m., December 29, 2017 at Saint Isabel’s Catholic Church (3559 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957). Joni would probably have told you to arrive a little early to get decent parking and a good seat.
In lieu of flowers donations to Saint Jude Children’s Hospital would be appreciated.