Joan Tonic of East Orange, peacefully passed into eternity on September 28,2022 at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She was born to Idella McCray in Cottondale, Florida in 1937.
Joan lived with her Grandmother Anna Mae Jordan in Cottondale, Florida before relocating as a child to be with her mother in Brooklyn, New York. She was raised alongside her “sister,” Daisy McCray and cousins Ronnie McCray and Charlotte Jones. While they were really cousins, being raised together made them more like siblings than cousins. As a child, Joan loved to run, climb and jump with her siblings. She also loved to dance, which followed her into adulthood. She was also considered the “ responsible “one.
Joan attended public school in Brooklyn, graduating from Franklin K. Lane High School. Joan often made it clear that the most important certificate to her was her PhD in common sense. In New York, Joan worked at Technicolor, a company instrumental in the television and movie industry. She later met and married Pete, an entrepreneur and owner of Pete’s Barber Shop in Montclair, New Jersey. She later moved to New Jersey where she took on two of her most important roles in life; as a mother and housewife. Out of their union, they had two children Stephanie and Mark.
In 1962 Joan and Pete decided to make their first major investment, becoming homeowners in East Orange, New Jersey. Joan was a savvy businesswoman and always had a good sense of money management. With her husband, they converted their one-family house into a three-family home. She managed the finances, tenant acquisition and daily operations of the home. Joan believed in charging rent that was slightly below the average so she would have access to the best and larger pool of prospective tenants. Joan also believed in the power of single mothers. She was very proud the single mothers she rented to, went on to purchase their own homes, primarily in the city of East Orange, as well.
In the mid 70’s, Joan continued her career, joining the East Orange Board of Education as Cafeteria Supervisor, where she was loved by students and staff. Today many of the students that she served still remember her kindness and how she made them feel special. Her leadership skills and business mind led her to become the union Shop Steward. She was proud and honored to fight for the rights of her colleagues. Famously, whenever a problem arose, her co-workers said, “Go tell Joan” because they knew she would represent their interest well.
Joan always considered her greatest accomplishment to be the mother of Stephanie and Mark. As a close knit family, she cherished her time with them. She was a fierce protector, her love had no boundaries for her children, always giving them advice that made them feel as if they were the most special gifts in the world. Joan often took Mark and Stephanie to movies, to Brooklyn to enjoy family and shopping and preparing large family meals. Despite Stephanie and her brother having birthdays two weeks apart, Joan always insisted on have two separate birthday parties.
She also was a fierce supporter of her children. She attended every school program, sporting event and parade and she always with dignity, respect, and grace - challenged teachers that she believed were not challenging her children academically to push them a little harder to success. Joan’s greatest joy in recent years began on November 29, 2009, with the birth of her granddaughter, Maya. She was an integral part of Maya’s life, lighting up whenever Maya entered the room. They became best friends, with Maya as her protector and her as Maya’s protector.
Joan was predeceased by her mother – Idella McCray, sister Daisy McCray, cousins Ronnie McCray and Charlotte McCray Jones; niece Sharon McCray Pearson and a host of aunts and uncles who loved her dearly. She is mourned by Daughter, Stephanie Tonic; Son Mark Tonic; Granddaughter Maya J. Tonic; Nieces Jennifer West, Janelle Pearson-Jackson; Dehaven McCray, Brenda McCray, Laila Jackson , Celeste Jones; Nephews Sheldon McCray, Eric Jones; Freddy Jackson, Trip Jackson; Brother in Law George West and Son in Love Ronald Watson and a host of other nieces, nephews, cousins and friends