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Obituary: Joyce Marsella Freedman

Joyce Marsella Freedman, 88, of Great Neck and Mystic, CT, passed away on Feb. 25, 2012. She was born Dec. 14, 1923 in Long Branch, NJ, the eldest child of Anna and Alexander Marsella.

Growing up on the New Jersey Shore, as a young girl she worked at the Knick Knack Nook, a souvenir shop on the Long Branch boardwalk owned and operated by her Aunt Nettie. She later attended and graduated Monmouth Junior College.

Joyce’s passion for, and lifelong work in the theater began at Monmouth where she was a member of their performing arts group. She was later to actively work both on the stage and behind the curtains in the Great Neck Community Theater. She was a member of Actors Equity, and studied with Uta Hagen at the HB Studios in New York. Her acting career of many years included performances in numerous plays in Summer Stock at Lake Placid, NY. She attended theater and concerts in New York on a weekly basis for over 50 years, and was particularly fond of everything “Stephen Sondheim” and the music of Peter Schickele’s alter ego PDQ Bach.

It was while working at Camp Evans, at Fort Monmouth in 1943, that she met husband Harold who was stationed there with the Army Signal Corps. Married Feb. 11, 1945 their loving marriage of 65 years ended with Harold’s passing in March 2010.

Joyce was an avid reader and a member of a Shakespeare reading group, and the Good Companions reading group. She was a member of Mensa. She and Harold were whizzes at solving word puzzles, frequently completing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle in under 45 minutes.

Joyce was a great cook and loved trying out new recipes from her shelves full of cookbooks and Gourmet magazines. Preparations beginning weeks in advance, her Thanksgiving tables were legendary; a feast for both the eyes and palate. In the days following Thanksgiving, friends and neighbors would stop in for another slice of her pumpkin chiffon pie.

Joyce loved to entertain, and greatly enjoyed the companionship of friends and neighbors. She looked forward to her annual trips to Block Island to spend some quality time with her closest friends. She was especially fond of dogs, all of whom knew that she was good for a smile, a gentle touch and a treat whenever they visited.

She had been seriously ill the past two years. Throughout her long illness, her physical and emotional stamina were an inspiration to all who cared for her. She charmed and won the hearts of all her caretakers, who treated her like family. And, despite all her physical trials and tribulations, she never lost her sharp mind, keen wit, and wry sense of humor, an example of which follows in this, her favorite poem, by Dorothy Parker:

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.

Joyce is survived by her brother Mark Marsella of Loch Arbour, NJ; her closest and dearest friend of over 65 years, Maggie Curran; Maggie’s daughter Ellen Jacobs who was like a second daughter; her loving and devoted son and daughter-in-law John and Judy Freedman of Preston, CT, and daughter and son-in-law Susan and Bo Persiko of Carbondale, CO; her grandson and granddaughter Tanner and Rianna Rollyson of Carbondale, CO; her brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law in Atlanta, Hollywood, and Nashville; seven nieces and nephews, and a host of other family and friends including her adoring and attentive caretakers at Mystic Manor, Mystic, CT, and her hospice aides Carl and Maureen who brought loving and joyful companionship to her in her final days.

A graveside service and interment were held on March 5 at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that celebrants of her life make donations on her behalf to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or to the ASPCA.