Joy S. Leary of Norwich, CT
December 8, 1929 – April 22, 2023
Joy (Somerville) Leary peacefully passed away on April 22, 2023. Joy is survived by her two loving daughters Leslie (Leary) Medalie and her husband Seth of Needham, Massachusetts; and Tracy (Leary) Driscoll and her husband Mark of Dedham, Massachusetts as well as her precious grandchildren, Ryan and Caitlin Medalie and Kelsie (Ouellette), Hayley and Geneva Driscoll. She is predeceased by her beloved husband Michael J. Leary, and leaves many wonderful cousins and relatives.
Joy was born December 8, 1929, in Norwich CT to Josephine (Antinori) Somerville and Leonard W. Somerville and was a graduate of the Norwich Free Academy class of 1947, and the Katharine Gibbs Business School in Boston, Massachusetts. After college graduation, Joy worked at WICH Radio in Norwich and emceed two radio programs, “Homemakers’ Exchange” and “Joy’s Country Kitchen”. Her popular radio talk shows were well known in Norwich and a broadcasting trade publication profiled her in an article entitled “She’s a Joy!” stating “True to her name, Joy Somerville adds fun to life as she passes along news and homemaking tips to listeners”.
In 1954, she moved to New York City where she worked as assistant to the Research Director of McCann Erickson Adverting Agency. In addition to working at the advertising agency, she took night courses at Columbia University and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. While in New York City Joy met Michael Leary who was also a Norwich native. They married in Norwich on October 25, 1957, where they moved back permanently to raise their family, becoming active members of the community.
Joy served as assistant to the Director of the Governor’s Eastern Office in Norwich, Connecticut during the administration of Governors William A. O’Neill and Lowell P. Weicker, Jr from 1984 to 1994. A founding member of Connecticut’s Eastern Regional Tourism District, she also served as Chairperson of the Norwich Tourism Commission.
She accepted the position of Executive Director of the Norwich based Eastern Connecticut Community Foundation in 1995 where she remained until its merger with the New London Community Foundation (now the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut). Joy was also an active member of the Woman’s City Club of Norwich for many years.
Joy enjoyed many adventures with her family including travels to Italy, London, Paris, and more. Everyone loved being with Noni and looked forward to visits to Norwich and her famous meatballs.
For the past six years Joy has lived at Avita of Needham, in Massachusetts, close to her children and grandchildren. The family thanks Avita’s dedicated staff for her care where she was fondly known as “Auntie Joy”. Services will be private.