Joanne Virginia McKeown Zilavy

Areas of Achievement: 
Home Making
Library Science

Honored By

Honored by: West, Theresa & McClard, Kathleen & Burton, Andrea & Zilavy, Daniel & Zilavy, Patricia
Date submitted: April 08, 2011
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Joanne V. Zilavy was born Joanne Virginia McKeown in Philadelphia, PA to Bernard W. and Catherine Regina McKeown (nee Conley). When she was three years old she and her older brother Bernard, Jr. moved with their parents to Boston, MA where she grew up.

Joanne went to Catholic school, spent summers at camps in the New England area and by all accounts had a very idyllic childhood. She played the piano and was a very gifted singer. She says she was painfully shy, so she joined the glee club while at Dana Hall high school. She was also an amazing golfer and had her father allowed it, she could have gone pro.

When her father was getting ready to retire and due to her mother's health, they decided to relocate in Tucson. So she transferred from Boston College to the University of Arizona where she graduated in 1948 with a degree in business. She worked at Sears and also in the Audio Visual Department at the University when it was located in the basement of the Nugent Building.

She was an active member of St. Abrose Parish and a founding member of the Cath-Adult club where she met her husband, Leo B. Zilavy. They were married in 1956. They had five children and she devoted her life to raising them. She was our teacher, art director, seamstress, cook, chauffer, swim coach and Camp Fire Girl Leader. Her children and her husband were her world. We volunteered her for everything and she willingly helped. She was working on her Masters in Library Science, but never finished because we were such a pain and didn't want her to go to class.

She and Leo were charter members of St. Frances Cabrini Parish where she sang soprano in the choir. During those years she was very active in the Cabrini Carousel productions put on by the choir not only playing/singing roles, but costume and set design.

Joanne lost Leo in 2002. She has eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren (with one on the way). She was also mother to countless 'strays' that her children brought home over the years. While her hearing and sight are diminishing, her stubborn Irishness has not. She gave us our sense of humor, our love of music and art, our determination and work ethic and the stubbornness to keep on going.

We love you Mom.