Joan Frances (Olsen) Southworth, 82, died unexpectedly Dec. 29, 2011, at Danbury Hospital. She was the widow of Robert Lyman Southworth, to whom she was married 56 years.

Mrs. Southworth was born March 8, 1929, in New York City, N.Y., to the late Edgar Christian and Drusa (Wilder) Olsen.

After her mother's death, she lived in Cattaraugus Village, N.Y., with her grandparents until her father married Florence Olsen. Around 1937, they relocated to Salisbury, where her family ran the Hemlock Inn.

The daughter of an engineer and a registered nurse, education was important to the family.

After graduating at the age of 16 from Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Mrs. Southworth took a year off before college to work at the Scoville Memorial Library, where her lifelong devotion to reading and letter writing was nurtured.

She graduated from Vermont Junior College, Montpelier, Vt., in 1949. The family then relocated to New Milford.

She worked as a law clerk in the New Milford Probate Court until marrying and raising her family.

When her children were grown, she began her second career in the New Milford town clerk's office.

Mrs. Southworth volunteered tirelessly for the Girl Scouts and, in partnership with her husband, serving the Lions for 56 years. They travelled extensively.

She was known as an elegant lady who developed many long and lasting friendships.

Ms. Southworth is survived by two daughters, Pamela J. Southworth, of Roxbury, and her fiance, Guy Gignac, and Diane O. Southworth, of Bethel, and her partner, Patricia Lewis; a brother-in-law; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday) at 1 p.m. at the Roxbury Congregational Church, 24 Church St., Roxbury. There are no calling hours.

The Colonial Funeral Home of Hull Funeral Service of New Milford is in charge of arrangements. For more information and online condolences, visit

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Minor Memorial Library, 23 South St., Roxbury, CT 06783.