She had the kind of welcoming kitchen where all the rich aromas of home-cooked Italian food greeted visitors and beckoned them to sit and stay. A simmering pot of gravy, macaroni, homemade baked goods, and coffee ready to pour spoke of a rich life centered around talk and the kitchen table. And there was always room for one more at Joanna Marcoux’s table. She prided herself at making all her guests feel at home.
She found the COVID-19 restrictions challenging but did her part even if it meant no more of that shoulder-to-shoulder camaraderie, for which she acutely longed.
Joanna Rita (Serafino) Marcoux died Friday of a heart attack at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester where she had been taken earlier that day. She was 90 and still had that curiosity that propels one forward in life.
Mrs. Marcoux was born at home in Philadelphia on August 31, 1930, delivered by her grandmother. She was the eldest of three girls born to Charles and Vincenza (Cusamano) Serafino. A quest for work sent the family to Leominster when she was in her early teens. She found moving from an urban to suburban environment challenging as she missed the energy of the city. The move also forced her to forgo an art school scholarship, about which she often spoke wistfully. She graduated from Leominster High School, where she received an art award, and adapted to life in the “country,” as she called it, though she never actually stopped being surprised at “all the trees.” As if reaffirming her bona fides as a city girl, she often recalled that she had never even seen a cow till she moved to Leominster. And then she married a man who grew up on a farm and had had many cows and stories about all of them.
After high school she went to work at Selig Manufacturing Company and there met the love of her life, Albert Marcoux. They were married in 1950 and eventually settled down in a house on Elm Street, from where Mr. Marcoux founded and operated Marcoux Upholstery for decades before selling it to his son Michael.
They raised four children there as well as helping raise a niece and nephew. Mrs. Marcoux stayed home with the children and helped out in the business. When the children were older, she went to work part-time in the auditing department at Sears, Roebuck & Co. in Leominster.
Money was tight especially at first but she managed to save a bit each week from the household budget to pay for an annual summer vacation on Cape Cod. Later, when the children were grown and had families of their own, Mrs. Marcoux and her husband became world travelers, visiting Greece, Italy, England, Ireland, Hawaii, and Canada among other destinations. She also thoroughly enjoyed her frequent trips to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, gleefully crowing over her winnings, which she put aside for special treats. Shopping was one of her passions.
She was a voracious reader and could breeze through a novel. She loved the feel of a hard covered book and bought plenty of them, which she later donated to the library for the enjoyment of others or freely handed out to likeminded readers. She was always the first to read the best sellers and could discuss the merits of one author against another with great insight.
She also was a news and political junkie. She was a loyal reader of the Boston Herald for decades and if you happened upon her while she was perusing the morning paper, she had plenty to say about a story on each page, which she liked to fold over vertically to mark her progress from beginning to end, including the sports section. When she finished, she turned her attention to the crossword puzzle, crypto quote, and other brainteasers.
Once the grandchildren came along, her house, though always a hub of activity, was once again bustling with the sound of laughter and the controlled chaos of getting kids organized and out the door for sports, camp, or school. When she took the little ones for a walk it was never along a wooded path but always straight downtown where they stopped in at the news agent for Lottery tickets and then over to Dunkin’ Donuts for a treat.
She was predeceased by her husband, Albert, who died in January, grandsons Mario Pelletier and Michael Vercontaire, and sisters Arlene Scorzelli and Jacqueline Richard. She leaves her children, Denise Pelletier of New Hampshire, Michael Marcoux and his girlfriend, Gini Guertin, of Fitchburg, Suzanne and her husband, Joseph Vercontaire, of Texas, and John Marcoux and his wife, Maryann Gerhart, of Pennsylvania; grandchildren John Pelletier of Westminster, Jason and his wife, BJ Vercontaire, of Texas, Nicole and her husband, Ben Speckhard, of New Hampshire, Catherine and husband, Matthew Belley, of Chelmsford, Antoinette Marcoux and her husband, Chris Prud-homme, of Boston, Daniel Marcoux of North Carolina, and Andrew Marcoux of Virginia; four great grandchildren, Grace, Leia, Logan, and Conor; former daughters-in-law Beverly Cronin of Leominster and Linda Marcoux of North Carolina and former son-in-law Jack Pelletier of Orange; and many nieces and nephews, including Diane Flanagan who was her best friend, and grand nieces and grand nephews.
All services are private. A celebration of her life will take place at a later date post pandemic. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Pl, Memphis, TN 38105.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joanna R. (Serafino) Marcoux, please visit our floral store.