Sunday, March 26, 2023


Joan Wendler


Longtime resident of Old Saybrook Joan Marie Wendler passed peacefully at Gladeview Health Care Center on April 9. She was 90. Born in Ellport, Pennsylvania, to John and Marie Pastin, she was the eldest of three sisters.

Her father worked for the USWA steelworkers union where he was instrumental in procuring pensions for workers. Her mother was a homemaker who encouraged Joan’s early career as a fashion model and television personality. She was hired by the Powers Modeling Agency and worked for a year in New York while she lived at the Barbizon Hotel.

After returning to Pittsburgh, Joan resumed her modeling career and took classes at Carnegie Tech, where she met her husband of 69 years while he was studying architecture. Those were interesting times in Pittsburgh, and Bob would take time from his night-time job as display designer at Gimbels department store to turn on the television display and watch Joan interview guests on the Earl Wheeler Show on WDTV. She also traveled to Hollywood to appear in the RKO film Son of Sinbad with Vincent Price, now a camp classic.

In 1960, Robert set up his office in New Haven. They moved to Old Saybrook, where, as a fulltime mom, she embraced small-town life, teaching Sunday school at Grace Church, being a member of the welcome wagon, and as a delegate for Project Learn. An early proponent of healthy eating, Joan taught the health and medicinal benefits of herbs and initiated herb gardens at the General Hart House and with students at the Goodwin School.

Joan loved to share stories about growing up in a mill town where people from all over the world lived and worked together. It gave her genuine compassion for people and an appreciation of the richness of everyday life, which she passed on to those around her. Naturally artistic, she played piano, sang, and wrote stories. She was also a great reader, supplied with books by her book-collecting husband and son Curt, a respected book dealer.

Joan was preceded in death by her husband Robert Wendler and her sister Patricia Mundsinger of Bridgewater, Virginia. She is survived by her sister Lois Nastase of Pittsburgh and sons Curtis and Brian and his wife Susan.

The family would like to express their gratitude to the doctors and nurses of Hospice and especially Gladeview Health Care Center where they lovingly cared for her.

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