Wise and warmhearted, decisive and generous, Westbury Deputy Mayor and Trustee Joan M. Boes was a beacon and an uplifting force in the village for decades.
“Don’t just talk about it, let’s get it done,” was how she tackled problems and advanced solutions, said her husband, Larry.
“She came to decisions quickly when she got informed, and was able to make decisions and support something when she thought it was the best thing available.”
After falling ill in May, Boes, who lived in Westbury for almost five decades, died at NYU Langone Health in Manhattan on Tuesday. She was 77.
Her many contributions to Westbury include helping to found the original arts council — and serve on its successor; preserve what would become The Space at Westbury Theater; and dissuade a 7-Eleven from opening on the site that became the Piazza Ernesto Strada, the heart of Westbury’s downtown named for the former mayor who was her mentor.
A deputy mayor for about nine years and a trustee for 17, Boes also devoted herself to aiding seniors and children.
“She was a voice of reason on our board, as well as in the community at large,” said Mayor Peter Cavallaro in a statement. “She served me and our residents with great dedication, passion, deep commitment and wisdom.”
Her titles included: the mayor’s liaison to the Westbury school district, and the village’s commissioner of recreation. And she “assisted countless” villagers at the Westbury Memorial Public Library, he said.
Her gift for politics might have been part of her Irish heritage, said her husband.
Her family moved back to Ireland when she was 6 years old in 1946, he said, an idyllic life that lasted until she was 12, when her family resettled in the Rockaways.
“She always would have liked to have moved back there at some point before she died, but she could not do that; she loved having her children and grandchildren and friends and neighbors around, and she would have been leaving them,” her husband said.
“My wife was close to a lot of people,” he said, "and her friends came from all walks of life."
Winning a scholarship from the local diocese enabled Boes to obtain her nursing degree.
She met her husband of nearly 53 years on a blind date, set up by a married friend of Larry's, a psychiatrist who had met her when they worked at Elmhurst Hospital. "He told me he admired her greatly for her skill, patience and good looks,” her husband said.
The first date began on a propitious note — both their addresses included the number 237 — and they attended a Carnegie Hall concert with tickets the friend, possibly as a ruse, said he and his wife couldn’t use.
Boes continued her nursing career, mainly at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, and one of her first initiatives was forming a Mothers Morning Out, a child-care group.
Her organizing and political abilities won her the presidency of the local League of Women Voters.
Politics came easily to Boes, he husband said. “There’s a certain bonhomie about it, a certain intelligence you have to have,” he said. “You have to know how to get along with people, and how to get things done.”
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her children: Lawrence of Pleasantville, Siobhan Boes of Brooklyn Heights and Thomas of New Hyde Park; and five grandchildren.
Viewing will be 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Aug. 17 at Westbury’s Donohue Cecere Funeral Home.
A service will be held at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 18 at St. Brigid Catholic Church in Westbury, with burial at Holy Rood Cemetery.