Joan M. Dobbs

Joan M. Dobbs, 80, of Brookfield, died Aug. 20, 2023

Ms. Dobbs was born March 25, 1943, in Chicago, the youngest of three children to parents James S and Doris (Lozo) Mooney. She was a lifelong Chicagoan and an avowed Catholic.

She grew up attending Catholic grade schools and graduated from Mount Assisi High School in 1961. That year she met David Dobbs on a blind date, and when their relationship got serious, David enlisted in the Air Force and was eventually stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. 

They married on Feb. 8, 1964, at St. Daniel the Prophet in Chicago, and then returned to Spokane, where Joan found employment with a finance company. After David’s four-year enlistment, they moved back to Chicago. 

Babies were born, in short order: Shonagh (born in Spokane), Kelly, and Tracy. Joan shepherded them through Catholic schools (St. Rene, St. Barbara, St. Ignatius College Prep), instilling in them the importance of educational excellence. She towed the kids around as she delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors in the region, modeling her dedication to community service.

In 1976, Joan and David moved the family from the Southwest Side of Chicago to Brookfield. Not long after she took a job at the First National Bank of Brookfield, where she worked for the rest of her professional life. A favorite family pastime was sailing on Lake Michigan on a 22-foot sailboat.

Joan and David became interested in cross-country skiing, and greatly enjoyed twenty years of getting out into the Chicago forest preserves and traveling to other states and even Canada. They joined a cross-country ski club that took them to significant places like Yellowstone National Park, Lake Tahoe, Glacier National Park and annually to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. They forged many friendships on those trips.

Joan discovered a love of Irish folk music in the early 1970s and began following Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers. A three-week trip to Ireland, without the kids, in 1972 became the impetus for later trips to Irish fests around the United States and music tours in Ireland. 

After the kids were out of the house, Joan and David began to seek out not just local Irish fests but those in more far-flung locales, forging friendships with other fans. Additionally, they accompanied friends on two Irish music cruises, one to the Caribbean and one to Alaska. 

Joan became a solid groupie of Rory Makem, showing up wherever he was playing and making sure to arrive early enough to claim front-row seats. One highlight was when, during the pandemic when the dearth of live music began to wear on Joan’s psyche, Rory put on an intimate house concert, held outside and socially distanced, at a friend’s residence.

She was a stalwart Cubs fan who stuck by the team even after the playoff debacle in 1969. David’s employment with Delta allowed them to travel standby to cities where the Cubs were playing. They traveled to spring training in Arizona several times with friends Germaine and Dave, making sure to attend the games that featured more of the regulars than the rookies. 

At one “old timers” game, Joan wrangled a photo op wherein she was flanked by Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins. She was a devotee of announcers Ron Santo and Pat Hughes, and at spring training games she made trips to the announcer’s booth to socialize with them. 

Once she procured tickets to a game at Wrigley for Shonagh and the grandkids, but mid-game the weather turned rainy. They stayed put in their seats, donning rain ponchos and watching the grounds crew roll out the tarp. Joan said, “I’ve always wanted to be one of the crazy people waiting in the pouring rain for the game to start up again.”

Joan believed horses to be the most beautiful creations on God’s green earth. When she was young her father occasionally took her to a stable so she could ride horses, but as she grew older city life didn’t often afford her that opportunity.

Eventually her need for speed was addressed by cars (and an occasional motorcycle ride). In family lore, one knew that if the family was late for an engagement, then Joan would be the one doing the driving.

Joan dedicated summers to raising vegetables in her backyard garden — tomatoes, beans, broccoli, herbs, corn — in her quest to grow food for eating fresh as well as for putting up for the winter. 

This involved a constant battle with rodents and rabbits bent on making her garden their own personal smorgasbord. Roses were her favorite flowers to grow and enjoy, and she went to great lengths to protect them from insects, deer, diseases, and hard frosts.

Joan enjoyed spending time in the kitchen, particularly to bake. Joan began a tradition of decorating homemade Christmas cookies with the girls early on. Over time that tradition expanded until the house turned into a cookie factory during the holidays, with all hands baking, decorating, and delivering up to ten different kinds of cookies to friends and neighbors. She enjoyed making Irish soda bread, and often sent loaves to her children at college, to neighbors and friends, and also to certain Irish musicians.

She had one dog in her life, Kelly, her dad’s dog, which biased her against any other dog thereafter. But she was a cat lover, and not only cared for several family cats over the years, but harbored neighborhood cats, chumming them with treats on the back porch.

She loved Diet Pepsi, strong tea, cotton candy, Fannie Mae buttercreams, Depression-era glass and antiquing with David, W.B. Yeats, Ray Bradbury, Star Trek, restoring old woodwork, sewing, being in the woods, Buddy Holly, Credence Clearwood Revival, Civic Orchestra concerts, riding bicycles, propagating house plants, crossword puzzles, and Guinness.

She is survived by her husband of 59 years, David; brothers James [Mary] Mooney, Mike [Judy] Mooney; daughters Shonagh [Michael] Preston, Kelly [Jeff] Mickus, Tracy Dobbs; grandchildren Melissa [Curtis] Heying and Kaylin Preston; great-grandchild Emmett; and many nieces and nephews and their families. 

Many thanks to the family and friends who assisted during Joan’s final days: Caregiver Eva, Niece Judy [Joe] Trisilla, Laura Stover, Germaine St. Germaine, Phil Vettel, Jeff Mickus.

A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 26 at St. Mary Church, Riverside. Interment is at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Evergreen Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to the Missionary Society of St. Columban, 1902 N. Calhoun St., Columbans, Nebraska, 68056

Hitzeman Funeral Home, Brookfield, handled arrangements.

To find the full obituary or express condolences online at Send sympathy cards Hitzeman Funeral Home, 9445 31st St., Brookfield, 60513, c/o Joan Dobbs family.