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Joann C. Mcdonnell

September 18, 1935 — May 12, 2024

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the death of our mother JoAnn McDonnell who passed away peacefully and most fittingly on Mother’s Day May 12, 2024, at Shorehaven retirement community in Oconomowoc, WI.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband.

As an only child, JoAnn Carolyn Roets was born in Merrill, WI on September 18, 1935, to Henry Edward and Caroline (Henrichs) Roets. The family moved not long after her birth to Hartland, WI where she spent her grade school and high school years. She spent many of her summer breaks in the Merrill area and had many stories and fond memories of those days spent with her cousins, aunts & uncles on their farms.

JoAnn attended and graduated from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, then moved back to Hartland and worked briefly as a secretary at Hartland Plastics. In the Hartland area she met Morton R. Spence Jr. (Mike) and they married February 7, 1959. Together they had three children; Jennifer Spence (Brian Seliger), Morton R. (Rob) Spence III (Maureen), and David Spence (Dawn). During those years, along with raising kids, she was involved with School House Players theater group, played tennis and golf at Chenequa Country Club with “The B Girls”; a fun bunch of woman she remained friends with throughout the years. 

Many years later, she was divorced, but remained active in the community and stayed in Hartland until she met John P. McDonnell through mutual friends. They married January 2, 1976 and she moved with John to his home in Rockford, (then to Barrington), Illinois. As a widower, John had five children of his own; Jim McDonnell, Mike McDonnell (Diane), Kathleen McCracken (Martin), Lynne Rizzo (John), and Eileen McDonnell. Together they loved and raised each others children. They cherished family and welcomed 17 grandchildren into their fold. Her joy was holding the newborns and watching them grow. She made the family holidays special, hoping to gather as many children and grandchildren together as possible. She enjoyed walking and time spent with neighbors, friends and relatives, She was always generous and had a caring heart.

It must be said though, that her favorite place, her cherished place was Naples, Florida. She loved the Cove Inn and was on the board of directors for the owners association for many years. She made lifelong connections with the other owners and folks who worked there. The outdoor Chickee Bar was the hub for fun and gossip and she enjoyed being a part of that. She was happiest while walking the beach with her “beach buddies” collecting sea shells, and basking in the sun. Naples was home during retirement years, and there was no place she’d rather be than in their condo overlooking the water when the sun came up.

There will be a private family service and burial on Sunday, May 19th.


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