Joan Grace LaBanca, a long-time resident of Darien and Jupiter, FL, passed away on Thursday, March 10, 2016 at Stamford Hospital.  Born on October 1, 1929, in Suffern, NY, she was the daughter of the late Edward and Emma Meffert. She was 86.

Joan's education began in a one-room school house with 16 students.  She excelled in music, playing the clarinet and the accordion.   She went on to study under professional accordionist Pietro Deiro and performed at many venues.   After graduating from Spring Valley High School and Fairleigh Dickinson University, her career began at the WR Grace & Company as an Executive Assistant to Peter Grace.  Her position required extensive travel throughout Europe and South America.  This earned her the honor of becoming a member of both United Airlines and Pan American Airlines 100,000 Mile Club by 1953.  In 1955 she met the love of her life, Alfred LaBanca, in New York City at the Wollman Ice Skating Rink in Central Park.  They married in 1956 and moved to Darien in 1964 where Joan was active in many school and community events and enjoyed a rich social life.

She will be remembered for her independence, positive attitude, extraordinary social skills and her organizational abilities.   She was the ground commander for the family racing sailboat and coordinated all the logistics for events in New England, the Chesapeake Bay and Florida for over 20 years.  She was a member of the Country Club of Darien, Noroton Yacht Club and the New York Athletic Club.  She enjoyed many sports and was a fierce competitor in tennis and paddle tennis, playing well into her seventies. She loved the game of bridge and played in several groups during the week.   Entertaining family and friends was, by far, her favorite pastime.  She was well known as a gracious hostess, always being ready to greet the many people who crossed her threshold with a warm welcome, and a banquet that would magically appear.  Her home was always an open house and all felt welcome.  After her husband's retirement, Joan and Al traveled around the country playing golf and visiting lighthouses.  They spent winters in Jupiter, FL and summers in Darien with their beloved grandchildren.

Joan is survived by her daughter, Ellen Connery and her husband Scott of Darien, son Bob LaBanca of Stamford, CT and his wife Mary, grandchildren Nick and Cate Connery and Cort and Lauren LaBanca.   After 56 years of marriage, she was predeceased by her beloved husband, Alfred in 2012 and a daughter Laurie in 1967.

Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 PM, Friday, March 18 at Lawrence Funeral Home, 2119 Post Road, Darien.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. John’s Catholic Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 10:00 AM.  Burial will follow at Spring Grove Cemetery, Darien.

Memorial donations may be made to St. John R.C. Church, 1986 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820, or Post 53, Darien Emergency Medical Services, P. O. Box 2066, Darien, CT 06820

— by the Family