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Joanne M. King

August 10, 1942 February 4, 2022
Joanne M. King
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Obituary for Joanne M. King
Joanne Mae Torsky King passed away peacefully at her home in Providence, Rhode Island, on February 4, following a five-year battle with cancer, with her family beside her. She was 79.
Joanne was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of John and Julianna Torsky, and the older sister of Leonard. While spending summers in Colchester, Ontario, she met Frederick “Freddie” King and they married in 1961 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Detroit, the focal point of an Eastern European immigrant community. Their wedding celebration extended for three days, during which nearly a thousand people celebrated the newlyweds with food prepared by the Ukrainian women in the parish. John Torsky, who traveled to North America in the 1920s and rode the rails across Canada looking for work, settled in Detroit and became a butcher, often bringing his daughter with him to Eastern Market to browse the stalls to buy meat for his shop. Joanne’s mother, Julianna, immigrated to Canada in her 20s, with little money and no English. She moved in with relatives and found work as a waitress. After marrying John, she raised her two children and filled her home with homemade breads, pies, pasta, pickled vegetables and hearty dishes from the old country.
Joanne’s husband, Freddie, passed away after the birth of their third son, and she returned to work as a nurse and relied on family and friends to help raise her children. She was extremely close to her in-laws, Charles “Fred” and Virginia King, who cherished time with their grandsons, including unforgettable summers at “the cottage” on the shore of Lake Erie. After her youngest graduated from high school, Joanne moved to Indianapolis, where she met her soon-to-be best friend, Kathy Boyle, who had hired her to work at a health care organization. Over the years, Joanne and Kathy enjoyed long evening walks, endless conversations, road trips, and spending time with each other’s families.
Joanne loved to travel, touring Norway and China, returning several times to France and Italy, and visiting her sons in California. After moving to Rhode Island in 2004, she grew to love her adopted home, making pilgrimages with friends and family to the state’s many beaches and hunting for the very best lobster roll.
Joanne is survived by her three sons, Robert, Thomas and Daniel; three daughters-in-law, Karla, Nancy and Jennifer; and three grandchildren, Delphine, Oscar and Henry, who knew her as “Baba.”
She always said that she learned more from her children than she could ever teach them, but for anyone lucky enough to know Joanne, she was the one who set the standard for unconditional love, generosity of spirit, the courage and clarity to accept what is, and the certainty that life doesn’t get any better than all that she had.
Donations in Joanne’s name can be made to the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Music School, at
A Memorial will be held in Westerly on or about Joanne’s birthday (August 10).
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