Joan Kaldawi

Obituary of Joan Kaldawi

Joan Catherine Kaldawi (nee Lanzel), 79, passed away at home on Sunday, July 2, 2017 following a valiant struggle with metastatic breast cancer.  A resident of Midland Park for the past 47 years, she was born in St. Marys, PA on October 2nd, 1937 to Loretta (Bobenreith) Lanzel and Francis Lanzel.

Joan received a bachelor’s degree in art education at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and as a young woman worked as an art teacher in St. Marys area schools. After devoting several years to raising her four children, she pursued a different career track as an accountant with Allied Signal/Honeywell, where she worked for several decades, and earned a second degree in accounting at Ramapo College. 

A gifted artist, Joan generously lent her talents to community and church projects over the years, including serving as art director for several Midland Park High School graduation balls, painting sets for a local theatre production, and designing the 50th anniversary program booklet for Nativity Church. Over the years, many of Joan’s paintings, posters, and signs could be seen around the church and occasionally in town.

Joan was an active, devoted member of Nativity Church in Midland Park and served in various roles over the years. She was a Eucharistic minister at the church and to Catholics at the Mill Gardens Assisted Living.  As a former team leader for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program, she led sessions on Catholic social justice teachings and helped promote the program.  She assisted with a Bible study course and taught catechism for many years, bringing her considerable art skills into the classroom to plan craft activities for her students.

She is survived by her beloved husband of 56 years, Fouad Kaldawi, and her daughters, Muna Killingback and her husband Timothy of Milton, Massachusetts and Jennifer Cavanagh and her husband Peter of Portland, Oregon; her sons Wade Kaldawi and his wife Kara of South Plainfield and Bertrand Kaldawi of Midland Park; and her five grandchildren: Katherine and Thomas Kaldawi, Julian and Jeremy Killingback, and Peter Oscar Cavanagh.

Friends may call on Thursday, July 6 from 6 to 8 pm at the Vander Plaat Funeral Home in Wyckoff and a funeral Mass will be held at 11 am on Friday, July 7 at Nativity Church in Midland Park.  According to Joan’s wish, internment will follow at the Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Donations to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in her memory would be appreciated.  For online condolences and driving directions, please visit