Joan Cunning (nee Smith) of Hoboken entered into eternal rest on October 13, 2020 surrounded by her loving family. Joan was born on May 20, 1936 to Helen (nee Roarty) and John Smith at St. Mary’s Hospital, Hoboken, NJ.  Before her first birthday the Smiths moved from 256 Sixth Street to Willow Terrace, Hoboken and Joan stayed on the Terrace for the next 60 years.  Joan attended Our Lady of Grace School and Demarest and began commuting to Lower Manhattan working for the New York Telephone company in 1949 – while still in high school.

Joan met Edward Cunning at a dance at St. Michael’s in Jersey City in 1953. Recently returned from his service to our country in the Army, the handsome redhead “Eddie” started calling Joan every day after that dance.  They were married on October 1, 1955 and built an incredible life together until Eddie’s passing in 1989.  Joan and Eddie enjoyed every parish event, evenings out, dancing, and their beloved Ideal Beach where they spent every summer together with their children, grandchildren, and many Hoboken and Jersey City friends who relocated to the beach for the summer.  A faithful widow, Joan often enjoyed remembering Eddie and their fun-filled adventures to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  If you were lucky enough to catch her on the beach or floating in the pool, you too would have heard stories about Joan’s life full of adventure, optimism and pure joy.  If you were blessed by her friendship, you never left Joan’s company without her asking to give your family and friends her regards.

Joan’s maternal grandmother, Bridget Connolly, came to Hoboken in 1888 from County Mayo, Ireland.  Her paternal grandparents, Olinda Tostain and John Smith were from Hoboken. Joan’s grandfather, John Smith, was born at 632 Willow Avenue. Joan was baptized in Our Lady of Grace and was a lifelong parishioner, honored for her service to the Mother’s Guild and Rosary Society. 

 Joan leaves a legacy of Irish American pride to her cherished family.  Founders of the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Eddie, Joan, their children and friends, created a legendary tradition that continues today in the hearts of many, in lieu of an actual parade. Joan’s proudest day was marching with her seven children down Washington Street as grand marshal. 

Joan is predeceased by her husband, Edward T. Cunning, her parents, Helen and John, her older siblings, Eileen Thiel, James, John, Jerry Smith, her sister, Marietta Earl, and her nephew William Thiel.  Joan is survived by her sister, Virginia Schreib, and seven children and their spouses: retired HPD Inspector Edward Jr. and Catherine Cunning, Bernadette and Carl Pehrson, Helen Cunning and William Coughlin, Retired HFD Battalion Chief John and Patricia Cunning, retired HFD Battalion Chief Daniel and Marguerite Cunning, Janemarie and Angelo Valente, and Joaneileen and John Coughlan. She is also survived by twelve grandchildren and their spouses: Edward III and Catherine, Daniel and Katie, Patrick, Mary and Ryan, John, Kaitlyn and Michael, Grace, Edward, Kristin, Hannah, Mia and Marietta, and five great-grandchildren: Edward IV, Gavin, Clare, Baby O’Neil and Baby Cunning (both due in Spring 2021) and cherished friends Mary Pendrick, the McBride Family and dozens of beloved nieces and nephews. The family would also like to thank Marilou (Marlyn) Lagazon for the loving and compassionate care she provided Joan.

In addition, Joan was known to many generations of Hoboken families as “Mimi.”was a babysitter to several generations of young Hoboken families – so well-known she could not cross the street or stop for groceries without a tap on the shoulder, or tug on her sweater, by one of “our kids,” as she called them. 

Family will receive friends on Thursday, October 15th from 3-7 PM and Friday, October 16th from 3-7 PM at Failla Memorial Home, 533 Willow Ave., Hoboken NJ.  A Funeral Mass of Christian Liturgy will be held on Saturday, October 17th at 10AM at Our Lady of Grace Church, 400 Willow Ave., Hoboken, NJ.  A Private Internment will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Memorial donations can be made to WomenRising, Inc. providing women jobs, safety from domestic violence, freedom from homelessness and safety for their children, at 270 Fairmount Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306 or online at: Make a Donation — WomenRising or Church of Our Lady of Grace, online at


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