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Joan (Kelley) Edler

CORNWALL — Joan Kelley Edler, daughter of Ruth Goss Kelley and Sidney Genin Kelley Sr., died peacefully on Jan. 27, 2021. She was 90 years old. 

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 30, 1930, she was the youngest of three children. Raised in Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y., she played tennis along with her siblings under the excellent tutelage of both parents. The family summered in northwestern Connecticut for many years and Cornwall became the permanent family home in the 1950s.

Joan graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania Horticultural College, now part of Temple University. She moved to New York City, where she worked for Life magazine. She met husband Klaus Walter “Nick” Edler in New York and began a 42-year-long adventure, raising their family and many dogs starting in Brooklyn and ending in Cornwall, with years in Staten Island, England and New Jersey in between.

Joan was a gentle, independent soul whose empathetic nature inspired and comforted many. She was a terrific Mom with an innate understanding of the needs of young children, rabbits, dogs, wild birds and plants. 

Gifted in art, horticulture and community service, Joan was a prolific watercolorist who occasionally experimented in oils and pastels. Her lovely work graces the walls of many friends and relations. Her gardens were an astounding array of loosely organized, ever-changing beauty. 

Her volunteer work at the Cornwall Library kept her in contact with everyone in her town. She was an active member of the First Church of Christ in Cornwall: a fixture at the annual Rummage Sale and the orchestrator of Christmas wreath-making for many, many years.

She loved all creatures, but took particular joy in bringing up numerous orphaned dogs, and gave them all a full and well-loved life. She could nurture any houseplant to a bountiful state and gave the fruits of her garden propagations freely to anyone who was interested, or to whom she felt needed them.

Joan was predeceased by her husband, Nick; and her sister, Susan Kelley Toll of Newtown, Conn. 

She is survived by her three children, Susan Wyeth and her husband, Leonard, of Ivoryton Conn., Timothy Edler and his wife, Karen, of Mullica Hill, N.J., and Wright Edler and his wife, Rachel, of Laveen, Ariz., as well as her brother, Sidney Genin Kelley Jr. and his wife, Jill, of Ridgefield, Conn. She has six grandchildren, Kristen Edler Angle, Lauren Edler Couch, Kenneth Edler, Carolyn Edler, Leonard Wyeth and Joan Wyeth. Two new great-grandchildren, Peyton and Barrett Angle, will sadly never know her. She will be greatly missed by her many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Cornwall Library, the United Church of Christ in Cornwall, Congregational, or the Little Guild of St. Francis in Cornwall.

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