Joanne Leary

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Joanne “Joni” Leary, nee Plank, 83, born August 7, 1937, in Neptune, New Jersey, died Sunday, December 27, 2020, at Memorial Hospital, Belleville, Illinois.

Joni led an extraordinary life. She graduated from St. Petersburg High School in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1955 and went on to be a five-time Beauty Queen. She was Miss Gulfport Boat Show Queen, New Jersey State Society Queen, Miss Largo, Soccer Queen and Miss Santiago which won her an all expense paid trip to pre-Castro Cuba. Joni worked as an office clerk with Allstate Insurance and a Boardmarker with Merrill-Lynch before joining American Airlines as a Stewardess.

In 1958 she married Bernal Quiros and moved with him to Costa Rica where she quickly picked up the Spanish language. Her only son, Thomas Quiros, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica. Following her husband’s career she lived in London, Ghana, New York City, and Los Angeles. While living in Pleasantville, New York she raised her son and bred Lhasa Apsos. Joni moved to Dallas, Texas in 1976 with her second husband, James Leary. They loved to entertain, and traveled throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Japan.

Joni retired to Hernando, Florida and recently moved to Belleville, Illinois to be close to her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. She was an animal lover and had pets throughout her life. Joni was a caring and generous person, always looking for ways to help others. She will remain forever in our hearts.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Don and Mickey, nee Hatfield, Plank; and her ex-husband, James Leary.

She is survived by her loving son, Thomas (Linda) Quiros; her grandchildren, Tommy Quiros, Michael Quiros, and Andrew Quiros, who called her Gammy; her ex-husband, Bernal (Marje) Quiros; a sister, Kathy (Jack) Myrtle; and a brother, Bob (Kathy) Plank.

Memorials may be made to the American Red Cross. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Services will be held at a later date due to the pandemic.



4 Comments on Joanne Leary

Joyce Michel said : Guest Report Jan 20, 2021 at 1:10 PM

Dearest Tom, Linda and boys: I’m deeply sorry for your loss and pray you find comfort in the cherished memories and the wonderful times you had together. Joni was a special soul and enjoyed a wonderful life. I’m especially grateful that she brought her only son into my life many years ago. Tom we love you very much and you are in our thoughts and prayers. May your beautiful mom Rest In Peace

  • Fontana
  • WI
Dan Parker said : Guest Report Jan 17, 2021 at 1:05 PM

To Tom, Linda, Tommy, Michael, Andrew, and all who loved Joni, I am very sorry for your loss, but am comforted that she is now in a better place. I am also very happy that Tom and his family were able to spend quality time with Joni in Belleville during the latter part of her life. And what a fascinating life it was! Now I better understand why my conversations with Joni were always so interesting, and the breadth of her knowledge and experience. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her, and will always be proud I made the asparagus just the way she liked it the last time we dined together at the Quiros house. Hats off to Joni for living life to its fullest and showing how to do it with wisdom and grace. I, too, will greatly miss her. May she rest in peace.

  • North Little Rock
  • AR
George Nugent said : Guest Report Jan 12, 2021 at 3:41 AM

She was a very special lady, and I'm sure she was so happy to get to know your three boys.

  • Seattle
  • WA
Kathleen Myrtle said : Guest Report Jan 11, 2021 at 3:05 PM

Joni will forever be missed by her sister and family.

  • Seminole
  • Florida

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