In the early morning hours of September 23, 2022, Joan Kroll Novick suffered a catastrophic stroke from which she was unable to recover. She died on Sunday, September 25 in the late afternoon just as Rosh Hashanah was beginning. Joan’s friends and caregivers were with her during her transition.
Joan was 91 years young. Just in the closing weeks of her life, Joan organized a sojourn to a Klezmer concert, had dinners with friends, attended the final auditions for the Lyric Opera’s Ryan Center, and had her first taste of the ice cream at the iconic Rainbow Cone. The evening before the stroke she video chatted first with her sister in Florida and then a dear friend who was out of town. Finally, she enjoyed the Court Theatre’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace”.
Joan was born on January 6, 1931 in Mt. Vernon, New York the first daughter of Abraham and Hannah Kroll. Her sister Sue fondly remembers Joan as a gifted dancer, tennis player, watercolorist, and wordsmith from an early age. Even as a teenager, she wrote regularly for the local paper. She studied language and literature at Bard College and general studies at Columbia University and started her advertising career midcentury at Children’s Buyer.
According to her longtime friend and business partner, Jerry Roman, Joan enjoyed a long, successful career in advertising and marketing.
“Following her years at Bard, hobnobbing with the future rich and famous, Joan began her life-long writing career at Women’s Wear Daily in New York City. She then applied her extraordinary writing talent to advertising copywriting at the Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (BBDO) agency. When her husband, acclaimed historian, Peter Novick, accepted a position with The University of Chicago, Joan transferred to BBDO’s Chicago office.
She then joined Gardner Stein and Frank Advertising (GSF). During her many years at GSF, Joan’s concentration was creating ads for the hospitality industry. Almost every well-known hotel chain destination resort was a beneficiary of Joan’s writing skill including Hyatt International. Sheraton. Hilton. Disneyland Hotel. The Dorals. Ramada. Palmer House. The Queen Mary. She crafted lush, emotive descriptions of the accommodations and activities at more than 100 individual properties and a dozen hotel chains. It was at GSF that Joan met and collaborated with Jerry Roman, with whom she founded Jerry&Joan Creative, a Chicago advertising agency, that served national and local corporations for 30 years.”
Her insatiable curiosity, her voracious reading habit, and her gift of language kept Joan at the top of her game professionally well into her 80s. “The profession has lost one of its best” Roman opined. Organizing her BBDO and GFS portfolios in recent years, Joan was particularly fond of her campaigns for American Standard, Budget, Carter, and DuPont. Her niece recalls another favorite ad campaign. For an exhibit of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose in Longbeach, CA, Joan spoofed a line from the Love Boat TV series. The billboard read, "The plane! The plane!"
Longtime Hyde Parkers, Joan and her late husband Peter, made the 5000 South Cornell building home base for more than 50 years. In the 90s, Joan studied Torah at KAM Isaiah Israel and wrote several commentaries. She was an active member and enjoyed her friends in the University of Chicago Service League as well as Hyde Park Village. Roland Wulbert, a longtime neighbor, said he once asked Joan to describe herself in one word to which she replied, “Merry!”
Others called her impish, progressive, open minded, and compassionate. She had a special affection for innocents, especially children and child-like adults. Wearing funny hats, dancing spontaneously and taking others seriously were among her superpowers.
From her early years, Joan never stopped dancing. Tap, shuffle, step or a lively swing continued to be her favorite form of locomotion. Joan was relentlessly creative. She wrote clever, funny poems to celebrate special occasions of loved ones … always playing with words. She entertained friends with witty conversation. And she never stopped writing—a few days before her death, she penned a birthday poem to her niece Leslie.
In mourning her loss, we also celebrate a long, healthy, and fully lived life. The term “joie de vivre” was invented to describe Joan. Her laugh was infectious, and her silliness was treasured by her friends and family.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, her niece KT Samuels, and her son Michael. She is survived by her sister Sue Morris, her niece Leslie Godwin, her nephew-in-law Robert “Bob” and her great nephew Tristan.
Special thanks to her primary care givers, Amy Levin and Nancy Hagen Goldstucker who cared for her professionally and lovingly in life and after.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Hyde Park Refugee Project or the Greater Chicago Food Depository in memory of Joan K. Novick.
A memorial service is being planned the first weekend in December. Please email email@example.com if you would like the details.