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April 18, 1943 ~ June 15, 2021 (age 78)

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Opera-lover Joanna Gaylord dead at 78

Joanna Gaylord, 78, of Pine City, NY, passed away on June 15, 2021 after a long battle with COPD and brain cancer. She is survived by her two sons, Christopher Neal, and Robert Neal, her five siblings, three grandchildren, and fourteen nieces and nephews.

Born in Penn Yan, NY on April 18, 1943, Joanna lived a rich and interesting life. Graduating from Dundee Central School (1961) and Corning Community College, she worked at various times as an administrative assistant at Xerox, a staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. (1981), and as the assistant to the Artistic Director of Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY.

Joanna’s real passions were dance, theatre, and music…especially opera. After her stint at Glimmerglass, Joanna decided to become a professional stage manager. During her career, she worked for several opera companies, including Boston Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Palm Beach Opera, and Tri-Cities Opera. Theatre work included gigs at the Shores Performing Arts Center in Miami Shores, FL; the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, FL; the Cider Mill Playhouse in Endicott, NY; the Nebraska Repertory Theatre in Lincoln, NE; and many other smaller venues.

After retiring from stage management in 2001, Joanna moved to Atlanta, GA, where she lived with her brother, Dan. She became an invaluable part of Dan’s family, helping care for her two nieces, who loved her quiet and quirky personality. After a sudden stroke in 2013, Joanna moved back to upstate NY, where she was raised, to live with her brother Alan and to be near family.  At the time of her death, she lived at the Park Terrace Congregant Apartments, where she enjoyed playing cards with friends, political activism,  tending her plot at the community garden, and watching the birds that visited the feeder she had installed right outside her window.

Joanna had beaten brain cancer once, and before her death she was scheduled to undergo a course of radiation to treat another brain tumor that had been found. However, before that treatment, Joanna passed away peacefully in her sleep. A close friend said, "'Joanna was a real warrior…even to the end.... choosing to leave in her own time and on her own terms… the good stage manager bringing down the curtain on this mysterious earthly stage."

In accordance with Joanna’s wishes, no funeral service is planned at this time. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be given to The Nature Conservancy at 


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