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Originally published June 8, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Page modified June 8, 2013 at 10:49 PM

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Joan McGuire, 88, tenacious volunteer for Catholic causes

Throughout her life, Mrs. McGuire displayed tenacity, directness and heart in working for the projects she believed in strongly.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Patrick McGuire remembers the big, extended-family dinners his mother, Joan Esther McGuire, used to cook each Sunday in their Maple Leaf home.

A terrific baker and cook, Mrs. McGuire would whip up feasts — then ask, with a hearty laugh, for a little donation.

“She would go around to everyone in the house and ask for a donation for some particular Catholic charity,” recalled Patrick McGuire. “ ‘That’s the price of the rigatoni,’ she would say.”

Mrs. McGuire didn’t care if a family member gave a quarter or 10 dollars, her son said. It was enough that she was instilling in them a sense of service and helping with causes she felt so strongly about.

Throughout her life, Mrs. McGuire displayed that same tenacity, directness and heart in working for the projects she believed in strongly, whether it be the creation of what was reportedly Seattle’s first in-hospital hospice for terminally ill patients or the restoration of the historic Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Seattle’s Central Area.

“She used her considerable heart and charisma to sway people to do what was right,” her son said.

Mrs. McGuire died May 29 after a stroke. She was 88.

Born in Ellwood City, Penn., Mrs. McGuire (then known as Joan D’Andrea) was a cradle Catholic whose faith inspired and drove her throughout her life.

She began her nursing career in the 1940s and later spent 30 years at Seattle’s Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, many of them as director of nursing services.

While there, Mrs. McGuire developed a childbearing project in which families could participate in the birthing process, and an in-hospital hospice for terminally ill patients, her family said.

“She had boundless energy,” recalled Patrick McGuire, talking about how his mother segued from raising seven children to resuming her nursing career to volunteering at several Seattle parishes and community groups for decades.

In 1995, Mrs. McGuire received the Katharine M. Bullitt Award from the Alliance for Education as volunteer of the year for her work with teen mothers at John Marshall Alternative High School.

Appointed by the Seattle Archdiocese in 1998 as pastoral coordinator of Immaculate Conception Church, Mrs. McGuire was key in raising money for and spearheading the $3 million restoration of that grand old church, which had fallen into disrepair.

“She rebuilt the historic Immaculate Church and rebuilt the people who worshipped there,” said the Rev. Paul Magnano, pastor at Christ Our Hope Church in downtown Seattle. “She was there day and night, loving the people and making a difference.”

It was hard to say no to Mrs. McGuire.

Longtime parishioner Marya Castillano Bergstrom remembered a time when Mrs. McGuire “had me washing and polishing all the woodwork in the rectory! She was strong in her convictions.”

Her ability to persuade people, Mrs. McGuire’s son Patrick believes, also came from her demonstrative manner and goodwill. When she laughed, the whole of her 5-foot-1-inch “tiny little Italian lady” body shook, he said. “People wanted to be around her. She brought people together and was able to move them in a positive direction through her heart and personality.”

Mrs. McGuire’s first husband, Louis Ventriglia, died in 1952. Her husband of 39 years, Martin Justin McGuire, died in 1993. Her eldest son, John McGuire, died in 1991.

She is survived by sons Mark, Patrick, James and Richard McGuire; daughters Mary Roberts and Letitia Lee; six grandchildren and one great-grandson.

A memorial service was held June 6 at Saint Catherine of Siena Church in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood. Memorial contributions may be made to Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, Office of Mission Resources, 100 23rd Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98144.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or jtu@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @janettu.

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