Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann please) Marie Chonko, age 87, of Harpswell died on August 5, 2022. She was born in Brunswick on June 29, 1935 to Marie and Michael Pagurko. She grew up on Pleasant Street in Brunswick, graduated from Brunswick High School and in June 1964 married Emile Chonko (deceased in 2014) in Brunswick. She is survived by her two children, Cheryl Card and her husband William of Harpswell and Michael Chonko and his wife Kimberly of Topsham and four grandchildren, Ashley Card, Mathew Card (wife Jasmine), Nicholas Chonko and Benjamin Chonko. She lived for a short while after being married in Pejepscot Village before jumping at the opportunity to convert the summer cottage in Merriman’s Cove to year around use. From a very early age, Joan was very active and loved the outdoors. In her youth in the winter she skated up and down the wheel track ice strips in the neighborhood cemetery and preferred to play football and basketball with the boys over the gender expected entertainment with dolls and the like. She played on the school basketball team when the girls were only ‘allowed’ to play half court. Her love of sports transitioned later in life to great enjoyment watching her grandchildren play. Her active lifestyle continued throughout her life with golf, cross
country and downhill skiing, saltwater boating, lobstering, motorcycling, home repair (she was especially good at drywall mudding and painting), photography, technology gadgets and of course taking care of her family. Her talents included music as she drummed her way through high school and then for many years setting the beat of the Merrymeeting Community Band. Her interests were not subtle or slight but rather full on. She spent many years playing rounds of golf at area courses and even used these as get away reprieves from her young children. She spent seven years on the ski school teaching at Sugarloaf, giving back to the sport that was always dear to her heart and ambitions. Springtime jaunts up the mountain after the lifts closed for ‘just one more run’ were common. Annual boating trips on a variety of boats over the years to Boothbay Harbor’s Windjammer days with longtime friends was a ritual, including a lobster roll on the dock on her birthday this year during the events. The years that she lobstered she carried her own bait to the boat in five-gallon buckets, hand hauled her traps in a 15 foot
wooden skiff built by her husband and carried her catch up the tall steep stairs in front of her home to eat or sell (mostly eat). Family was always her focus with raising her own as well as being very active in her grandchildren’s lives. She taught them all to ski of course, all about boating, golfing as well as the importance of family and looking out for and taking care of each other through everything that life could bring. A devout catholic her entire life included taking care of the long ago closed Harpswell summer chapel, St. Mary’s By-The-Sea. She loved her furry friends and the void of her will surely be felt by the canine world. Oh, and on top of all of this, she worked as the school secretary at the West Harpswell School for 30 years, taking care of the town’s young ones, wiping noses, shooshing voices and keeping order. She even tried her hand at real estate for several years on a part time basis, making more friends
than dollars. For many years for extra income at the time of the year that it is often needed most, she sold 500 wild Christmas trees in Brunswick that her husband hand cut. Her presence was always honest, quiet and humble, yet effective and others benefitted from her efforts, including family, friends, neighbors and strangers too. Her presence and contributions will be greatly missed, however her legacy lives on in so many people and in so many ways.
A celebration mass of this amazing women’s life will be at 12 noon on August 9 th at the St. Katherine Drexel church. In lieu of flowers donations to the Sugarloaf Ski Club/King’s Kids program or to the Harpswell Neck Volunteer Fire Department would be appreciated.