Joan Elizabeth (Gable) Rios, 89, formerly of Elizabethtown, passed quietly on August 22, 2020. She was predeceased by her husband of 52 years, John Manuel Rios. Born in Lancaster on July 26, 1931, she was the daughter of the late Anthony and Cecelia (Gable) Thomas, and was raised as a child and well into her adulthood by her beloved maternal grandparents Adam and Alice Gable. She was predeceased by a brother John A. Thomas of Lancaster and a sister Ruth Hoberg of Lancaster.
Joan was a 1949 graduate of J. P. McCaskey High School, Lancaster, and Millersville State Teachers College, where she met her future husband, with a B. S. in Education and Library Science. Her work experience in library work included service with the Lancaster Free Library, the New Holland Machine Company’s engineering library, Northern Lebanon School District Junior-Senior High School library, Lebanon Valley College’s Gossard Memorial Library, Lancaster General Hospital’s School of Nursing Library, where she distinguished herself by learning to interpret nursing language and in nursing research, and with the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Coatesville, PA. In 1955, she appeared in “Who’s Who in Library Science.” While growing up, Joan was a member of St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Lutheran Church in Lancaster, later teaching in the Primary Department for eight years, and finally serving as Assistant Superintendent from 1953-55 and Superintendent from 1955-56.
Joan was an old hand when it came to the stage, be it makeup, costuming, or acting. Starting in the 1950s, she was an actress with the Millersville State College Citemard Players, the Lancaster Little Theater, and Domino Playhouse Productions. Later she parlayed these skills into providing Halloween’s Monster Makeup for the Elizabethtown Library for many years, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s, she worked for the Elizabethtown Area Music Foundation assisting with the organization’s town summer musicals. Joan was also employed in the early 1980s at the Masonic Home in Elizabethtown, participating in the 100-year celebration there. She later served at the Leader Nursing Home as an activities volunteer.
In her retirement, she remained actively involved in the community by offering childcare services, continuing from 1984 to 1990 as a local Elizabethtown area correspondent for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal newspaper, with her specialty of highlighting in-town and area events and feature articles celebrating local milestone birthdays. Joan was a long time member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, PA, and enjoyed attending with her husband and 13 children. She valued each moment of her time, not just with her children, but also with her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and treasured her family trips to the beach, especially those to Atlantic City, NJ.
She is survived by children John M. Jr., of Elizabethtown, fiancé of Anita Harris of Lancaster; Peter J., husband of Melany Rios of Millersville; Rebecca E., wife of Kelly Murphy of Columbia; Paul J. of Lancaster; Margaret A. Rios-Gomba of Lancaster; Joan R. of New Holland; David J. of Lancaster; Matthew J., husband of Anh Le Rios of Mountville; Philip J., husband of Kimberly Rios of Blufton, SC; Daniel J. of Middletown; Rachel J., wife of Victor Marquez of Lancaster; Deborah G., wife of Christopher Reinbold of Reading; and Maryann G., wife of Shawn Twyman of Bristol, VT. Also surviving are 28 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by one grandson, Kelly Murphy Jr.
A graveside service will be held on Thursday, August 27, 2020 at the family gravesite in Mount Lebanon Cemetery, 235 E. Maple St., Lebanon, PA. The Thompson Funeral Home, 126 S. 9th St., Lebanon, PA, Stephen P. Thompson, Supervisor, (717) 272-0701, is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made on her behalf to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Sixth and Chestnut Streets, Lebanon, PA 17042.