On August 22, 2020 Joan (“Rocket”) Harrigan peacefully left us for another zip code. She was predeceased by husband Jimmy, step son Jim Jr , parents Ruth and Murdock, brother George and wife Grace, numerous much loved poker and golf buddies.
Joan grew up in Orwell ,Prince Edward Island where she attended a one room school. As a tall freckle faced, red head she stood out. She chose to embrace her uniqueness and made being a “ginger” fabulous. One of Joan’s nieces later shared her struggles as a child being a red head and how her Aunt Joan made her feel beautiful and special. It changed the course of her life. This was the impact knowing Joan had.
At the age of 12, Joan would have a life altering trip to New York. She was captivated by the vibrancy of the city and knew that she would not remain on the island long. She returned home with a trunk full of wild clothes many adorned with bling and so began the signature Rocket attire. It did not matter the occasion Rocket showed up in crazy bejewelled outfits. The first time she met Shelley’s future in laws she made her entrance in a mink coat, leopard print outfit and rhinestone shoes. This was for a family gathering on Christmas Eve! And after being specifically instructed to “keep it simple”. But Joan never bowed to the pressure to tone it down…throughout her life... it was the louder the better.
Wanting to further experience the big city life she left High School and with three girlfriends headed to the big city lights of Toronto. They had little money. … if one was asked out on a date, all three would show up to share the fun. Joan would often recall the story of how the girls were out for a fancy dinner on a date and they drank the water from the finger bowl. She thought that was hilarious.
Joan continued west and wound up in Calgary. It was here that she met the love of her life Jimmy. She was attracted to his big charismatic wild personality. In 1962 they moved to BC with son Geoff and it was here that they started Harrigan Rentals.
Throughout her life Joan had many passions: She loved her family. She loved her friends. She loved to laugh. She had a passion for golf. There was no end of fun with peppers games, gin rummy, lunches, late nights, cards and laughter well into the night on road trips with her Vancouver Golf Club friends. One close friend Wendie said she would laugh for 3 straight days as Rocket’s roommate.
Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale became a winter home. Joan had many friends at the club. The “Gainey Girls” had lots of raucous good times together on the course, trips, playing cards and the 19th hole on the deck. Joan won the club championship twice.
Another passion was poker. Not a typical “June Cleaver” Joan had a 30-year poker game with Paje and the girls.
She loved her car. Joan drove her 2007 convertible Mustang until she could no longer.
She loved Vegas and could be found at the Blackjack table well into the night.
If you were to ask her, she would say that her most epic life experience was when Jimmy surprised her with tickets on the stage to see Elvis. She recounted the story many times of how Elvis himself sang to her and wrapped a scarf around her neck. She said she thought she died and went to heaven.
She loved travelling and was so happy to have made it to Europe with partner in crime Camille. Great times with the Hamilton’s in Makaha, Australia, NZ, with Jimmy, and numerous cruises and travels to Scottsdale, Mexico, Hawaii with her grandkids Zander and Phoenicia. While she never moved back to the island, she made many trips to see her beloved family.
She was an outstanding mom and Nana.
Many memories and lifetime friends were made travelling for her son Geoff’s sports. She had her special Saturdays with Geoff exploring the cities best restaurants. She missed her calling as a restaurant critic.
She shone in her role as Nana to Zander and Phoenicia. She was so happy that she had a hand in Zander coming into Shelley and Albert’s life. You would find her in ball parks cheering on her grandkids. She was happy to have been at Zander’s grad. While she didn’t make it to P’s grad, she went grad dress shopping with her. The grandkids adored Nana and she them. She dealt up a real unfiltered reality to them and they loved it.
Shelley (her daughter) and Rocket packed in a lifetime of memories, capers, and adventures. She was very progressive believing women should and could achieve anything.
Nobody could keep a secret like her. She was a vault and she never judged. She taught her kids and grandkids to be strong and realize how fortunate they were. All while she never forgot her own humble island background or her people.
On her final day with us, Joan told the doctor she had no regrets because she had lived a full and rich life (which she did.)
Well it’s never easy saying goodbye. She left us on her terms with dignity .
She was ushered into the next phase of her life with champagne and Elvis playing in the background no doubt getting ready for a seat at the poker table or a round of golf.
Her family wishes to thank the following people for their care and support:
Dr. Mary Robertson, Dr. Chris Lee, Fraser Health Palliative gals, and Dr. Sclater. The staff of Harrigan Rentals.
The family is eternally grateful to Carmen for her unwavering support and love. Albert who always understood the importance of being there. Tracy’s devoted care of Joan along with Geoff, Shelley, and Phoenicia whose dedication allowed her to stay in her home up till the last few days.
In lieu of flowers, …donations can be made to SHARE, Kids Help Phone, Breakfast Club of Canada, Boys and Girls Club.
Due to covid there will be no celebration at this time. But we invite all those who loved and knew her to grab a favourite beverage, put on some Elvis and say a toast to our beloved Joan. We love you and will forever miss you.