JoAnn (Laffey) Barder

November 26, 2022

JoAnn Barder Obituary

JoAnn Barder, nee Laffey, age 78, of River Forest, died Saturday, November 26, 2022, after a brief illness, surrounded by her three children. Beloved wife of the late Robert J. Barder, born into Eternal Life in 1998. Loving mother of Julie Ann, Mary Therese (Michael) Leahy, and Robert Thomas (Julene). Loving grandmother of James, the late Raymond, Naomi, David, Andrew, and Carina Barder, and Nora, Megan, and the late Erin Leahy. Daughter of the late Myles and Julia Laffey. Daughter-in-law of the late George and Gertrude Barder.  Sister of Myles (Patricia) Laffey and William (Dr. Patricia) Laffey. Sister-in-law of Thomas Barder and Louise (Roy Allen) Corzine. Aunt of Myles (Jenny), Eileen (Peter), Katie (Tom), Marty (Traci), Bill (Kristen), Jennifer (Jeff), Julie (Brandon), the late Timothy, Cheryl, Jennifer (Mike), Nicole, Michelle, and Danielle (Joe), and great aunt, beloved cousin, prayerful godmother, and cherished friend to many.

JoAnn was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, attended Visitation School, and continued on to DePaul University, earning two Master’s Degrees in Teaching and School Administration. She taught second grade at Visitation School and then third grade at Ogden School. She married her “Prince,” Bob Barder, on May 2, 1970, and devoted herself to being a loving wife and nurturing mother. When her children were grown, she began her work at Willows Academy, holding a number of positions over the course of two decades, including President of the Board, Director of Parent Relations, College Counselor, Teacher, Dean of Students, and Assistant Head of School. 

JoAnn was admired for pouring so much love, warmth, and grace into all of her family relationships and friendships, for her professional excellence, and for the strength of her Catholic faith, especially her love for the Holy Mass and her devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Over the course of her life, she dedicated herself to accompanying and guiding women of all ages in a variety of ways, including through  mothers’ groups and the Chaparrel girls club in the Western suburbs, activities that inspired women to seek high ideals such as service and friendship in their families and communities. With her husband Bob, she also led Family Enrichment programs for couples. JoAnn enjoyed reading (especially the Sunday paper), exercising through walking and yoga, listening to Irish music, and seeing the hummingbirds visit her lovely balcony full of flowers. She delighted in recounting stories from her childhood, returning to Willows Academy for special events, and visiting and laughing with family and friends. She had a ready smile for each person she encountered and lit up in the presence of her grandchildren to whom she was truly devoted.

Visitation will be held on Friday, December 2, 2022, from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Cooney Funeral Home, 625 Busse Highway, Park Ridge, IL 60068.  The Funeral Mass will take place on Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. at Saint Mary of the Angels Catholic Church, 1850 N. Hermitage Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622.  Interment will follow at Queen of Heaven Cemetery, 1400 S. Wolf Road, Hillside, IL 60162.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Willows Academy (, 1015 Rose Avenue, Des Plaines, IL 60016.

For information please call 847-685-1002 or visit 

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December 2, 2022

3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Cooney Funeral Home
625 Busse Hwy
Park Ridge, IL 60068

Funeral Mass
December 3, 2022

10:00 AM
St. Mary of the Angels
1850 N. Hemitage
Chicago, IL 60657


Willows Academy
1015 Rose Avenue, Des Plaines IL 60016
Tel: 1-847-824-6900


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