Joan (Joni) Frances Nugent, aged 75, died peacefully on July 20, 2021, of natural causes. Joni was born October 30, 1945, in Boston, MA, the daughter of the late Lawrence J. Nugent and Laura E. (Simonelli) Nugent Dorini and the stepdaughter of the late Frank Dorini. Her beloved sister Elizabeth “Bette” Morgen and devoted Godson Christopher Morgen pre-deceased her in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Joni grew up in Wakefield, MA, graduating from Wakefield Memorial High School in 1963. She worked for a children’s hospital in Boston before leaving Massachusetts for Indian Harbour Beach, FL, in 1977. There she began a career in the liquor industry, starting as the first female salesperson for Bacardi Rum in the Miami area—it was no small challenge learning to pronounce the company name sans her New England accent, which she never lost—and later covering the state for the Seagram Company. Ironically, never a drinker herself, she was always at the top in sales and thoroughly enjoyed doling out company-branded products, especially t-shirts, to family and friends. Needless to say, she was a big fan of her nephew’s college fraternity brothers!
In 1990, she joined family in the Maryland area, eventually landing in the historic village of Darlington, where she aptly applied her sales skills to fundraising for the town’s annual Apple Festival and Independence Day celebration for which she was named Grand Marshal in 2013. She was also known as the “Cat Lady” for rescuing and finding homes for stray cats and “Radio Free Darlington” for always being in tune to (and “broadcasting”) the latest town news and gossip.
She loved to drink tea, rarely missing her morning cuppa; to garden; and to cook, especially the traditional meals and dishes taught to her by her Italian mother. Even when arthritis made it difficult to do so, she continued to make homemade gravy and meatballs, and a holiday never passed without her chicken soup. It’s not an exaggeration to say that she was obsessed with feeding those she loved.
More than anything, Joni was devoted to her family. Whether they were her New England cousins or her “furry” family, especially her late canine Gipsey, or her brother-in-law in Darlington and her nieces and nephews in Maryland and Pennsylvania, her love and loyalty for them was unrelenting. “Auntie” celebrated every milestone—often accompanied by a lotto ticket—recital, ball game, birthday, graduation, and holiday. She was selfless in her generosity, caring, and time. She always signed every thoughtfully hand-picked card with the word “peace,” and that is our wish for her.
Auntie is survived by her brother-in-law Richard Morgen of Darlington, MD; her nephew, niece, great-nephew, and great-nieces Jeff, Gina, Zachary, Leah, and Willow of Conowingo, MD; her niece, great-nephew, and great-niece Nathalie, Julian, and Lydia Morgen of Fairview, PA; her niece Beth Morgen of Baltimore, MD; her niece and nephew Amy and Curt Nielsen of Aberdeen, MD; and many relatives and close friends.
A service for Joni/Auntie will be held on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Darlington Fire Hall: 600 Castleton Rd, Darlington, MD 21034. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of her can be made to support the Maryland SPCA. Gifts can be sent to: Maryland SPCA, 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21211 or https://www.mdspca.org/