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Joan M. O'Hanrahan, 88, pioneer coach of girls' teams in Tonawanda

Oct. 23, 1928 – Aug. 20, 2017

When Joan M. O’Hanrahan started coaching girls in the Town of Tonawanda in the 1950s, she was a pioneer.  Virtually all of the girls’ teams were coached by men.

“Most of them didn’t think female athletes could excel at sports,” her daughter Theresa said. “She believed that girls could do anything that boys could.”

Mrs. O'Hanrahan, who went on to coach and mentor hundreds of girls in municipal and church league teams, died Sunday in Elderwood at Williamsville after a lengthy illness. She was 88.

She was a founding member of the Town of Tonawanda Girls Athletic Association.

She coached softball and basketball teams in Catholic Youth Organization and town leagues. She worked with St. Amelia’s teams from 1970 to 1982. When she retired after 25 years, she was the town’s winningest female coach.

Born in Buffalo, the former Joan M. Hearn was a 1945 graduate of St. Nicholas High School, where she played softball and basketball.

In 1949, she  married Patrick F. O’Hanrahan Jr., who was an inventory control supervisor at the Ford Stamping Plant in Woodlawn. They had eight children. Her husband died in 2011.

After her children were raised, Mrs. O’Hanrahan worked as a cashier in a Super Duper supermarket in Amherst from 1975 to 1992 and was a receptionist in an H&R Block office in the Town of Tonawanda from 1993 to 2007.

A member of St. Amelia’s Catholic Church in the Town of Tonawanda since it opened in 1953, she was an officer in the St. Amelia Guild, a member of the Home School Association and a Catholic Charities worker.

She also served as a eucharistic minister and a Sunday collection counter and assisted in many fundraising activities. She attended Monday night Novenas regularly.

For their volunteer work at St. Amelia’s, she and her husband received the St. Joseph the Worker Award in 1996 from Bishop Henry Mansell. For her service to the parish, she also was the recipient of the Mike Coburn Memorial Award from the St. Amelia’s Holy Name Society in 2010.

She was a member of the Town of Tonawanda Irish American Club, the Golden Nuggets, the Doers Club and other social organizations.

She bowled for many years at Airport Lanes and in a St. Amelia’s couples league.

Survivors include, a son, Patrick J.; seven daughters, Mary Loiacono, Joan Corey, Peggy O’Hanrahan, Patricia Turski, Kathleen Burger, Maureen Traina and Theresa O’Hanrahan; two sisters, Elizabeth Everett and Shirley Weidman; two brothers, Robert Hearn and Francis Hearn; 21 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Friday in St. Amelia’s Church 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.

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