We celebrate the life of Joanne Mikulak Kalb who passed away at the age of 80 years old on December 5, 2021, at The Rutherford Memory Care in Tennessee, from Vascular Dementia. Born on November 4, 1941, she was the daughter of Peter and Anna Mikulak.
Joanne was born and grew up in New Jersey in the Russian Orthodox Faith with her brother John Mikulak. She moved to California in her 20s with her husband, Walter Kalb. Her first career was in nursing, but she took many years off to raise her stepdaughter, Barbara, two children, Stephen and Melissa Kalb, and two cats Serina and Cassie, which they raised in La Cañada.
During their school years, Joanne was active in the PTA, volunteered often at their respective schools, and baked countless dozens of cookies. She opened her home to their friends, and loved it most when the house was full of family and friends. Joanne was an incredible cook, had her redesigned kitchen featured in Sunset magazine, and was known for her “freezer parties” and cheesecakes with raspberry sauce.
When Melissa was in high school, Joanne filled her days by working for La Cañada High School, first as the 7/8 Receptionist, and ultimately as the Textbook Room Clerk. She loved working with her PTA friends at the high school and helping the teachers and students. In 1990, Walter and Joanne purchased Airhardware, Inc. and ultimately, they ran their business side-by-side until his untimely death in 2004. Joanne retired after Airhardware was sold.
She spent much of her time doting on her two grandchildren, Alaina and Patrick, grand-dog, Gunnar, and grand-cats Snickers and Bailey. It was not unusual to see her at a dance recital, theatre production, or swim meet. Her other favorite pastimes included shopping with Melissa, reading, watching “Downtown Abbey,” Hallmark and Disney movies, and spending time with her lifelong friends at what was affectionally called Margarita Monday at Los Gringos Locos.
In 2020, Joanne moved to Tennessee with her son Stephen, his wife Kristina, and their family. The family is most grateful to the staff at the Rutherford Memory Care for the excellent care they provided her as her vascular dementia progressed. Joanne had such a caring and open heart that she made everyone she knew feel as if they were family. She is missed by all who knew her.
She is survived by her son Stephen of Franklin, Tenn., daughter Melissa of Fort Worth, Texas, step-daughter Barbara of Muenster, Texas, daughter-in-law Kristina, grandchildren Alaina and Patrick, grandson-in-law Isaiah, grand-dogs Gunnar and Tarben, and several extended family members scattered across the country.