Joan Dunlavey of North Chelmsford


5876-dunlaveyThe world has lost a true angel. R. Joan Dunlavey was called away suddenly and much too soon on Saturday, September 17, 2016 after a brief illness. Joan was surrounded by her loving family as she joined her parents, sister and many relatives in heaven. She was a life-long resident of North Chelmsford, MA.

Joan Dunlavey led a rich and fulfilling life, but most of all, she will be remembered for her selfless giving to others. As a sister, daughter, aunt, friend and educator, Joan was always the first to give her support in every way. More importantly, she was a loving daughter who was the primary caregiver to both her mother and father during their final years of life. Time and time again, Joan was the person that so many people counted upon to help in their time of need. She gave willingly and happily to the many people in her life, and she touched others in the most remarkable way. Her sisters, brother, nieces and nephews cherished her, and all the wonderful times they shared together.

Born in Lowell, Joan was the daughter of the late Francis J. and Rita T.(Murphy) Dunlavey. She graduated from Chelmsford High School and Merrimack College with honors. Joan, a true scholar, continued her education throughout her career, earning her Masters of Education at Simmons College, and another Masters at UMASS Lowell.

Joan taught in the Lowell Public Schools where she was adored by staff and students alike. She loved to teach and her insatiable curiosity, generous spirit and love of reading made her the perfect role model for the children that entered her classroom. She served as teacher, acting principle, IT specialist and more, always doing whatever she could to better the education of the students.

Her love of family and friends was paramount, and she lived life to the fullest. Joan was known for telling great stories coupled with her sweet laughter and smile, and enjoyed spending time playing trivia games and engaging in spirited debates. She was an amazing “Aunt” and played Secret Santa by dropping off countless gifts to different houses late every Christmas Eve. Joan was also a world traveler, known for jaunts to Europe, trips to see plays in New York City and visits to family in California.

She is survived by her sisters, Mary Mitchell-Dunlavey and her partner Ralph Simpson of Bedford, MA; Carol D. Aquiar of Tyngsboro, MA; Gail F. and her husband Charles “Chuck” Hirbour of Dracut, MA; brother, Francis J.A. and his wife Marti (Callahan) Dunlavey of Weare, NH; her brother in-law, Jack Scaplen of North Chelmsford, MA; fourteen nieces and nephews, John, David, and Stephen Scaplen, Jeff, Adam and Chaz Hirbour, Jen Aguiar, Sam Dec, Melissa, Lyn and Alec Aguiar, Ryan, Craig, and Cian Dunlavey; and seventeen great nieces and nephews and many cousins and friends. She was the sister of the late Patricia Scaplen of North Chelmsford, who predeceased her in 2013. The loss of this sweet, kind woman will leave a void in the lives of her friends and family forever.

Visiting hours will be on Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM at the DOLAN FUNERAL HOME 106 MIDDLESEX ST. NORTH CHELMSFORD, MA. The funeral Mass will be at 11:00 AM at the Immaculate Conception Church 218 East Merrimack St. Lowell, MA. The burial will be private. Donations honoring Joan’s memory may be made to the Joan Dunlavey Scholarship Fund, c/o Lowell High School, Attention: Bursar, 50 Father Morissette Boulevard, Lowell, MA 01852. ARRANGEMENTS BY DOLAN FUNERAL HOME 978-251-4041. Guestbook at


October 8, 2016
9:00 - 10:30AM
Dolan Funeral Home


October 8, 2016
11:00 AM
Immaculate Conception Church, E. Merrimack St., Lowell, MA
  1. Erica Smith says:

    I was so sad to hear of Joan’s passing and send my heartfelt sympathy to her loved ones. What a terrible loss to our community. There is still a hole at Lowell High School where Joan used to be. She was truly one of the warmest, kindest, most helpful souls I have ever met. Certainly among the staff here, Joan was invaluable and remains irreplaceable. Unlike anyone really, you could call Joan with a computer problem and she’d say “I’ll be right down!” And she would appear in minutes to help you! Lord knows she had other things to do, but she always made you feel important and supported. I feel sad that I didn’t have the chance to see Joan after her retirement, as I missed her and still do! We were blessed to have known her.

  2. Judy DiRubio says:

    Joanie was a gem. Such a huge loss. My heart breaks for all of you.

  3. Francis and Judy Casserly says:

    Our sympathy to Mary Mitchell-Dunlavey and the rest of the Dunlavey Family at this time. Our prayers for healing are being said for you.

  4. Paula Downey says:

    Our deepest sympathy on the loss of Joan. Please know you are all in our thoughts and prayers at this very sad time.
    Paula and Marty Downey

  5. Roxane Howe says:

    My deepest sympathies on your loss. Joan always had a smile and a can do attitude, looking out for all colleagues at LHS. She made a difference every day of her career.

  6. Mary Lou says:

    Joan was the sunshine of Lowell High School. I remember her smile and fun spirit! God Bless You and your whole family.

  7. Katherine J. Ansara says:

    My deepest sympathy for the loss of a very special woman. She will be missed by many.

    May her memory be eternal

  8. Katherine J. Ansara says:

    My deepest sympathy for the loss of your beloved, Joan. She truly was an angel and a person who generously gave to all. Her colleagues at Lowell High School appreciate all that she contributed to the learning experience of many students and educators. Her compassionate personality was respected and appreciated. May her memory be eternal and may she rest in peace.

    With my deepest sympathy

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