Joan Barbara Gold of Marshfield, MA died gracefully and peacefully Friday September 14 in the loving embrace of family at the Mary McCarthy Hospice House in Sandwich, MA at the age of 65.
A medical professional by training, Ms. Gold captained her 10-year fight with metastatic breast cancer, partnering with the finest medical doctors and facilities in Massachusetts and relegating the disease to annoyance status for much of the decade of her survivorship.
The daughter of Sir Joseph and Ruth Gold of Bethesda, MD, Ms. Gold was born in Washington D.C. May 31, 1947.
As a young woman in Maryland, she volunteered and served in the civil rights movement and retained a deep interest all her life in diversity, building tolerance and social justice.
Ms. Gold found her lifelong career passion as a caregiver after graduating from Laboure Junior College in Dorchester, MA with an Associate Degree in Nursing in 1975. Eleven years later, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of MA with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
Her career was characterized not only by her excellent clinical skills in nursing, but a devotion to service for those less fortunate or in harm’s way.
Her early years were spent with The Tufts New England Medical Center Hospital and the Kennedy Memorial Hospital for Children. In 1980, she began 30-plus years of service to those less able to access conventional medical care due to mental health, homelessness, AIDS, drug addiction or poverty. This started with a six-year stint at the Visiting Nurse Association of Boston and then Cambridge; followed by work in public health at Boston City Hospital and the Framingham State Prison for Women.
From 1988 to 2003 she served the clientele of Pine Street in numerous capacities, from serving homeless patients on the streets of Boston to head nurse of the Women’s Clinic.
This was followed by almost a decade of service to underprivileged clientele at the Women of Means and then as Admissions Nurse at the Barbara McInnis House, part of the Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program. Her work spanned delivering triage care to supporting clients in regaining self sufficiency and independence.
It was at Pine Street that she met her partner-in-life and husband, Joseph Weinman.
All of her work was characterized by a remarkable capacity for compassion and empathy in things both big and small – touching patients both clinically and emotionally, whether it was helping a client take a child to a ballgame, or giving her own hand lotion to a woman in need.
She was submitted for a Massachusetts Department of Public Health recognition award while at Women of Means, the only time she allowed herself to be publicly recognized. In 2007 she was nominated as an Unsung Heroine by a Commissioner for the MA Commission on the Status of Women, but preferred to serve clients rather than appear at the State House Ceremony. In 2011 when Women of Means celebrated its 10th Anniversary, Ms. Gold was feted as one of the honorees.
A former client there to honor her spoke directly to the effect she had had on her life.
"I would like to tell you a story about Angels. When I was a child, I asked my mother if Angels really existed. She told me they do. They are ordinary people who come into your life when you are in pain, lose your way and have lost hope. They cross your path either to help you find the direction you’re supposed to go, lend moral support or help you in your time of need. It could be anyone because angels take many forms.
This person just happened to be one of my many angels who helped me during my darkest hours. She didn’t judge me for being an addict or prostitute but showed me the right direction to go in for self healing. Because of her, I am now sober and going to Gibbs College in Boston to become a Medical Assistant."
Her personal life was fueled by a similar compassion for those less fortunate, giving of her time freely to the Marshfield and Scituate Animal Shelters where she adopted her share of homeless dogs and cats and the Marshfield Council on Aging where she visited homebound seniors. She also served as a court advocate in the South Shore Women’s Center in Kingston and as a Mentor to the Women in Community Life Skills Program in Boston.
A devoted runner for much of her adult life, she completed three Boston Marathons including the 100th running of the race.
She is survived by her husband, Joe Weinman of Marshfield, her sister Julia Gold (Bob Zielinski) of Omaha, NE, her brother Richard Gold (Alice) of Columbus, IN, nephews Joseph Zielinski, Nick Zielinski (Jessi Reiss), niece Shea Wilkinson (Jake Koster) nephews Aaron Gold, Andrew Gold and niece Rachel Gold. Also surviving her are Jeff Weinman (Claudia), Laura Slomiak (Bret), Matt Weinman (Michelle), Cindy Whipple (Herbert) and grandchildren Matt and Tommie Whipple, Jessica Weinman, Joey Weinman, Molly Weinman, Jonny Weinman, Brandon Follick, Jake Slomiak, Tyler Slomiak, Joshua Slomiak, and Daniel Weinman.
Ms. Gold will be cremated. A Sweet Celebration of Life for friends and family will be conducted at the Barbara McInnis House, made sweeter by Ms. Gold’s passion for ice cream and sweet toppings.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Innocence Project, 40 Worth Street, Suite 701, New York, NY 10013, The Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104 or to the Joanie Angel Fund, care of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, 780 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118; www.bhchp.org. This fund is in honor of Ms. Gold for the benefit of clients of BHCHP.