Joan (Lees) Taylor, age 79, of 53 Notre Dame St. Westfield passed peacefully at home, October 12, 2018, after a long illness. She was born 4/20/1939, to the late Avie Lees and Grace (West) Godere at Noble Hospital in Westfield. Her formative years were spent in Southwick, MA where she attended Southwick Consolidated School and then later, Westfield High School.
As a youth she worked summers in the tobacco fields and then part-time at Lando’s, the department store that later became Newberry’s and now is the site of the PVTA station.
As an adult, with small children at home she worked part-time at White’s Quaint Shop filling catalog orders and making metal credit cards using a special embossing machine.
Known as ‘the voice of Old Colony’ Ms. Taylor worked as telephone operator and receptionist for 27 years. She began her employment there as the assistant to the plant manager then transferred to the telephone operator position where she patched calls using a 10 line plugboard system. When systems were modernized she received computer training and went on to manage the telephone system for the company even as it changed owners and became National Envelope.
Her favorite stories from her years working there include a warm fondness for National Envelope founder William Ungar, a Holocaust survivor who penned ‘Destined to Live’. She said he was a very kind man who everyday had only sardines, crackers and an apple for lunch.
Another of her favorite anecdotes describes developing a friendly relationship with a previously cranky customer. As she answered the phone one busy day, this customer complained that it took 17 rings for her to answer. She responded, “I’m sorry. Would you like me to hang up so you can call back and I can try again for maybe 16 rings?” He laughed and they were on friendly terms after that.
She was also very proud to have saved the company $27,000 once when she caught a billing error.
She is survived by her siblings David Lees, Richard Lees and her half-sister Sheryl Kotowski and half-brother Gerald Godere. She is predeceased by her husband Stephen Taylor and by her youngest daughters, Coleen Fitzsimmons and Kathleen Taylor.
Ms. Taylor leaves behind her daughters, Lori (Konis) Johnston and Tamara (Konis) Roofener, as well as 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
She was an ardent solver of crossword puzzles and enjoyed reading. She often quoted her favorite line from the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity”. Another favorite poem of hers was “Footprints in the Sand’. She was a strong woman with a great sense of humor.
Joan’s family will grieve privately. Donations in Joan’s name may be made to St. Jude’s Children's Hospital.
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