Joan Barbara Donahue

Joan Barbara Donahue

October 26, 1938 - January 14, 2024

Joan Barbara Donahue

October 26, 1938 - January 14, 2024


Joan Barbara (Hollis) Donahue, 85, of Laguna Woods, CA passed away peacefully at home on January 14, 2024. A memorial to celebrate Joan’s life will be held on Thursday, February 8th at 7pm at O’Connor Mortuary in Laguna Hills. A Memorial Mass will be held on Friday, February 9, 2024 at 10am at Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church with a graveside service immediately following at Ascension Cemetery.

Joan is survived by her husband of 61 years, John (Jay); two daughters, Denyse and her husband Mark Walden of Gilbert, AZ and Kelly and her husband Ryan Gourley of Laguna Beach; four grandchildren, Kyle and his wife Brandi of Mesa, AZ, Amber of Santa Monica, McKenna of Rancho Santa Margarita, and Misha of Portland, OR; three great-grandchildren, Eli, Oakley, and Thorin of Mesa, AZ; brother, James (Buzz) Merrigan; two sisters, Terese (Rese) Jacoberger, and Cecelia Patricia (Ceilpat) Castro; Sister-in law, Elizabeth (Beth) Donahue; brother-in-law Stephen (Steve) Donahue; aunt, Joan (nee McQuade) O’Connor and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins.

Joan was preceded in death by her beloved son, John David in June of 2023; her parents Emon Baker (Holly) and Helen Joan (nee Fitzgerald) Hollis and step-mother Rita (nee O’Connor) Hollis.

Joan was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 26, 1938 to Emon and Helen Hollis. She lost her mother to cancer when she was just 3 years old. This had a lasting effect on Joan’s devotion to her family and maintaining strong family ties. Her father later married Rita Merrigan and they moved to The Boulevard Gardens in Queens, New York where she lived until she married in 1962. Joan along with her brother and sisters had a large extended family in the Gardens and were all very close. She lived for a time with her aunt Ceil whom she loved like a mother. She shared many fond memories of going to the city for Broadway shows, Christmas in Times Square, and shopping at Macy’s. She later shared these experiences with her children.

Joan graduated from Hunter College with a bachelor’s degree in political science, though she did not enjoy politics when discussed around the table. She loved spending time with her sorority sisters of Alpha Delta Pi and spoke of their shenanigans often. While Joan was a good student she was a better social butterfly, maintaining relations with her sorority sisters, her bowling buddies, and neighbors throughout her lifetime. Joan valued friendship.

Joan and Jay met on a double date at the Jersey Shore. She said he was a good guy, loyal, kind, adventurous and came from a good family–she loved his family and they loved her. They were married in Queens, NYC in 1962 and soon welcomed their first born Denyse and later two more children, Kelly and John. Years later they settled in Lake Forest, CA and made a wonderful life with their church and friends here at Santiago de Compostela and Laguna.

Joan’s love and dedication to her husband, her family and friends, and her church was her life, always there with a hug and a kiss, always bringing us together for birthdays and holidays to celebrate life, love and family.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to  St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, Montana

This is an organization that was dear to Joan’s heart and she was dedicated to supporting this school for many years.

Vigil Service

  • Date & Time: February 8, 2024 (7:00 PM)
  • Venue: O'Connor Mortuary
  • Location: 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills, CA 92653 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 581-4300

Memorial Mass

  • Date & Time: February 9, 2024 (10:00 AM)
  • Venue: Santiago De Compostela Catholic Church
  • Location: 21682 Lake Forest Dr. Lake Forest, CA 92630 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 951-8599

Graveside Service

  • Date & Time: February 9, 2024 (11:30 AM)
  • Venue: Ascension Cemetery
  • Location: 24754 Trabuco Road Lake Forest, CA 92630 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 837-1331

St. Labre Indian School

  • Address: Ashland, Montana - (Get Directions)
  • Website:
  • Description: This is an organization that was dear to Joan's heart and she was dedicated to supporting this school for many years.

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2 responses to Joan Barbara Donahue

  1. Patricia and Ken McGinnis says:

    Heaven gained an incredible light the day you left us. I will always be grateful to you, for protecting me as a child, and I very much enjoyed our relationship and visits as adults. You will be deeply missed by so many.
    Rest in peace dear sweet, cousin Joanie. Love, Pat

  2. Katee Eatmon says:

    Cousin Joanie was such a kind sweet woman. I will always remember her quit wit, easy laughter and wry smile. As one of the older cousins who had so many of us younger kids underfoot, I saw her as a role model; so pretty and friendly and fun! I know how hard it is to lose a mom, it hurts like crazy. And having lost my son, Adam… well.. hearts are breaking here on earth, but there is a party in Heaven. Joanie is with the loved ones who have been waiting for her. Even while we weep. I send my love and prayers to you all!

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