Joan Louise Olivia of Mendham, New Jersey died July 24 of natural causes at the age of 88. The former Joan Crawford was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1931 to Russell and Dorothy Crawford (née Snyder). Her father’s family descended from a long line of Scots that came to the U.S. in the early 1600s and fought in the York regiment during the American Revolution. Her mother’s family emigrated from Germany in 1732 and founded the German Baptist Church in America. Athletic as a child, Mrs. Olivia was raised along the Susquehanna river in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania and graduated from Lemoyne High School in 1949. She chose nursing as a career inspired by her late stepfather, William M. Blazina, MD. Mrs. Olivia graduated from the Reading Hospital School of Nursing in 1952 and became a nurse supervisor at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia and the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill. During her tenure at Hahnemann, she met her future husband, the late Joseph V. Olivia, MD.
Mrs. Olivia raised four children in New York and in her beloved Mendham, New Jersey. Her devotion to her children and family was a constant throughout her life. Known for her kindness toward others, she had countless friends. Mrs. Olivia was active in the Mendham community and later in life returned to the healing profession as an EMT and committed member of the Mendham Township First Aid Squad. In her role as a first responder, she selflessly assisted countless Mendham residents in need.
Mrs. Olivia was an expert seamstress who could sew just about anything. She made many of her children’s clothing including dresses, sweaters and sport coats. She enjoyed knitting, arts and crafts, painting and spending winters in Vero Beach, Florida on the inland waterway fulfilling her lifelong love of the water. It was often said that there was never a garage sale left untouched when Joan Olivia was in town as she was a constant presence at these events around Mendham in search of her endless collection of “little treasures” which filled her township home. Somewhere, this weekend, the yard sale signs will be at half mast.
Mrs. Olivia was preceded in death by her husband of 58 years, Joseph V. Olivia, MD, whom she cared for over many years. His final wish was that she be beatified. Her children disagree; canonization would be more appropriate here. She was also preceded in death by her brother, Robert Crawford. She is survived by her half-sister, Mary Vickery, half-brother William “Chip” Blazina, Jr., her four children, Christopher T. Olivia, MD, Tamara A. Keeman, Scott T. Olivia, Keith M. Olivia, Esq. and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. The family would like to thank Betty Donnelly and Bill Thompson for their steadfast devotion to our Mother during her latter years. Her ashes will be interred with her husband in the family plot adjacent to the church in which they were married at Most Precious Blood Cemetery, Hazleton, Pennsylvania. There will be a mass in her honor at Saint Joseph’s Church in Mendham, NJ on Saturday, September 14, at 11 AM in the Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Pennsylvania State University referencing the Joseph V. and Joan L. Olivia Family Trustee Scholarship Fund, c/o Office of Donor and Member Services, Penn State University, 2583 Gateway Dr., Ste. 130, State College, Pennsylvania 16801, (877) 888-5646. Mrs. Olivia helped establish this scholarship which benefits underprivileged Pennsylvania students who attend the university with the intent of pursuing a career in the sciences.