Joan Barbara Marek, 85, of Fairfax, VA, formerly of Philadelphia, PA, passed away peacefully on January 4, 2021, with family by her side. Born in Philadelphia, she was the devoted daughter of the late George J. Hack and Rose M. Hack (nee Fisher), whose families emigrated to the United States from their native Hungary. Joan was a proud 1953 graduate of Little Flower High School in Philadelphia, where she played first chair viola in the orchestra and made lifelong friends. She lived out the values of her education there, including a commitment to faith, hope, and love.
For more than 40 years, Joan was fortunate to be able to work in the field she so loved -- music. She taught music theory and piano to countless students of all ages, beginning her teaching career at Holy Family School in Manayunk, PA and eventually retiring from her position as a piano instructor at Waldron Mercy Academy, in Merion, PA. Joan's passion for music was deep and true. Under her talented and dedicated tutelage, many of her students went on to win acceptance to some of the country's most prestigious institutions to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees in the music field.
On May 2, 1959, Joan married the love of her life, Henry Richard Marek, with whom she shared 52 wonderful years before his passing in November 2011. She loved taking care of her home and celebrating all of the big and small events in their lives together. She and Henry also discovered a love for traveling abroad once the kids were grown, participating in church-sponsored tours in Italy, Ireland, Austria, and Hungary. Joan's favorite destination was Paris, France, which she visited three times. She was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. Joan is survived by her three children, Henry, Michael, and Rosemary, their spouses Phyllis, Diana, and Todd, and six grandchildren, Sarah Rose, Todd Joseph, Elise Marie, James Michael, Matthew Henry, and Daniel Richard. Her grandchildren affectionately called her "Mama." She is also survived by her younger brother, George Hack, along with his wife, Dolly, and their four children.
Joan was a caring and giving person, always ready and willing to go the extra mile for her family, friends, students, and anyone who needed a helping hand. Her commitment to serving others led her to become an active member of the Mercy Associates later in life. Joan was a strong person, with spirit, purpose, and determination. She modeled these, as well as incredible faith, courage, and resilience throughout her life, and particularly throughout the past ten-and-a-half years, during which she suffered tremendously as the result of a stroke that left her unable to move or speak. Despite these seemingly insurmountable odds, she continued to relish life, never gave up hope, and continued to teach others -- no longer music, but instead, how to live each day, no matter how hard, no matter what the challenges, with grace and dignity. She never lost her sharpness of mind and enjoyed engaging with those around her, gently reminding us that although words might fail us in our difficulties, our ability to connect through our shared humanity endures. Joan's life, especially after her stroke, was a testament to the strength of the language of love, which finds a way to speak even in the darkest of times. Although our family misses you deeply, Mom, we are grateful that you are no longer in pain and we pray that you are with Dad, resting in peace in the presence of the Lord and his angels, dancing with abandon, chatting away with a blessed tongue, and listening to music more beautiful than we can imagine.
Immediate family will gather for a private farewell at the Koller Funeral Home in Philadelphia on Monday morning, January 11, followed by a graveside service open to extended family and friends at Calvary Cemetery in Conshohocken, PA, at 11:30 a.m. Masks are to be worn at the funeral home and cemetery and social distancing is to be observed. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joan's memory to The Salvation Army, a lifelong favorite charity of Joan's, at give.salvationarmyusa.org, would be appreciated.
Condolences may be shared at www.kollerfuneralhome.com
KOLLER FUNERAL HOME
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