Cover photo for Joanne Rita Tegeler's Obituary
Joanne Rita Tegeler Profile Photo
1935 Joanne 2024

Joanne Rita Tegeler

January 26, 1935 — May 22, 2024

Whittier

JOANNE RITA TEGELER

January 26, 1935 – May 22, 2024

“Grandma Joanne” Tegeler was born in San Diego, California on January 26, 1935. Along with Jim, her younger brother and only sibling, the family moved to the Los Angeles metropolitan area when she was seven years old.   She graduated from Saint Monica High School in 1952.  It was during this time she volunteered as a “Candy-Striper” at St John’s Hospital where one of the nurses, Adele Tegeler, introduced Joanne to her younger brother Bill, a sailor on leave. The two had their first date at the end of January and by Valentine’s Day, just 17 days later, they were in love, or as Joanne wrote, “… we both fell fast!”   The young couple was only separated when Bill returned to his ship with orders to sail to Japan. Knowing there would be an upcoming wedding Bill sent home several items, including Japanese silk which Joanne used to make her wedding dress. Bill was discharged from the Navy on February 6, 1953, and they were married eight days later on Valentine’s Day.

Motherhood came quickly for Joanne after her marriage.   Corey was born just 13 months later in March of 1954 followed by Sharon in April of 1955.  Pregnant with her third child and outgrowing their apartment in Venice they discovered Whittier, a community in east Los Angeles County.  There, they bought a new house in the Summer of 1955 where Bill Jr. was brought home in February of 1956. This became the family home where Joanne raised all her children and lived for the rest of her life.  Joanne’s family was completed with the birth of Janet in December of 1959 and her youngest child Michael, in September of 1964.

Joanne unselfishly sacrificed to provide a Catholic education for her children by re-entering the workforce to help with the rising cost of tuition. She worked as a sales specialist in the Fine China Department of Hinshaw’s Department Store which allowed her to share her love and knowledge of fine things. Later, she accepted a position as bank teller for Quaker City Bank.  She started in the downtown Whittier branch before being transferred to La Habra where Joanne spent most of her 26 year career. As the branch’s senior teller, Joanne knew many customers by name, and they knew her.  It was not uncommon for patrons to wait in her line to be helped by their favorite teller, who was known to keep a prayer list at her workstation for anyone in need.    As one of the longest tenured and beloved bank employees, the president of Quaker City Bank personally took Joanne to lunch in celebration of her upcoming retirement.       

Once their children were finally raised and out of the house, after years of doing without for “the kids,” Joanne and Bill now had the time and money to enjoy each other and travel -- two things that eluded them during their years of sacrificing for their family.  Always a team, Joanne would choose the place and Bill planned the logistics as they visited many of America’s greatest cities and toured numerous foreign countries including Germany, Switzerland, British Isles, Eastern Europe, England, France, Spain, and Italy. One of Joanne’s most memorable trips was visiting Michael and his new wife Erika in Belgian when he was in the Air Force and stationed at Floreness Air Base. She fondly remembered Mike meeting her at the train station and giving him a big hug after not seeing him for what seemed like forever.  

Her children often said their mother’s social calendar was busier than theirs, and it was true. Joanne had amazing groups of friends with diverse backgrounds and interests. Friendships reignited as Joanne and other Saint Monica graduates planned their 50-year high school reunion.   Afterwards, these alumni relationships evolved into close friendships, and they continued meeting for lunch and fellowship ever since.  She joined the Expand Your Horizons Book Club, made up of a growing group of friends that met monthly to discuss the assigned “Book of the Month” over lunch. Joanne also had a cadre of friends who shared her love for opera, which they studied at Fullerton Community College for years. With the professor acting as their guide, they traveled throughout the United States and abroad touring some of the world’s most beautiful cities and opera houses.   

Joanne loved to garden.  She took great pride in her backyard, which was the envy of many. In 2007, she planted a rose garden to honor her late husband of 54 years.  When her youngest son Michael passed away in 2021, she planted an above-ground garden which has a place of prominence on her backyard patio next to the lounger where she spent hours sunning, relaxing and reflecting.

Joanne lived a full life and was blessed to do many things not everyone in this world could do.  Some of her most memorable experiences include witnessing and being blessed by a saint, Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and again at the LA Coliseum during the Pontiff’s visit to the United States; at the invitation of its then owner Joanne spent a weekend at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire where she explored the grounds, and as a lover of books spent time reflecting in the cabin where some of the greatest works of literature were written;  during a personal tour of the White House, she placed her foot into the Oval Office knowing it was prohibited and got to stand at the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room; Joanne kissed the Blarney Stone and touched the Prime Meridian of the World in Greenwich, England; she tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain with the love of her life; she stood behind the contestant podium on the set of her beloved Jeopardy; and she visited her ancestry homeland in Varano Borghi, Italy whose dirt she will be buried with.

Joanne was a loving daughter, sister, and wife whose living ancestral legacy spanned five generations.  For 70 years, she was devoted to her five children, putting their needs before her own even as she lived her final days. She loved and was loved by her 16 grandchildren who have lifelong memories and stories to forever tell about their time with Grandma Joanne.  It was perhaps her 23 great-grandchildren and a great-great granddaughter that brought her the most joy at the end of her life.  Sharing her adventures of growing up always brought laughs, and meeting new babies always brought smiles.  

Joanne passed away on May 22, 2024, as she wished, at her home surrounded by family.

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Mass

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

10:45am - 12:30 pm (Pacific time)

For those unable to attend, a live recording will be accessible at this link below:
https://www.youtube.com/@beatitudesofourlordcatholi514

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Graveside Service

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

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Reception Immediately following service

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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