Joan H.'s Story

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Joan H. (Dalheim) Kosan, PhD, of Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., longtime educator, art lover and New York Giants fan, died from cancer on October 25, 2017, at the Regional Hospice in Danbury, Conn. She was 86.
Joan spent the last year of her life living with her daughter, Lisa Kosan of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., formerly of Beverly, Mass., and Lisa’s husband, Scot Petersen. She spent many hours enjoying the sunsets over the Hudson River.
Born in Staten Island on Friday, February 13, 1931, the daughter of Selma (Bleiman) and Alvin Dalheim, Joan was an athletic, brave, and inquisitive young woman throughout her life. She won a New York City Parks Department medal for speed skating in 1947, was a first aid attendant at city beaches and pools, considered flying airplanes until a stomach-turning loop-de-loop convinced her otherwise, and wanted to drive tractor trailers and deliver newspapers, but neither role was considered appropriate for girls at the time.
Joan graduated from Curtis High School in 1949. Her name, along with that of her brothers, daughters, and cousin, Roberta Bleiman, is printed on the permanent Scholarship Honor Rolls that still hang in the school. Joan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in floriculture at Cornell University, her Master’s in horticulture at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and her Doctorate in botany from Columbia University. She taught biology throughout her career at Wagner College, Staten Island Community College, and New York City Technical College in Brooklyn, where she retired as a full professor in 1995. Though her colleagues and students referred to her using her honorific title, many of her friends never knew Joan earned the right to be called doctor. She was proud of her achievement but humble.
Joan also coauthored the technical college’s lab manual for Biology 101, which was updated six times, and she was a noted authority and researcher on the pollen and mold spore count in New York City. Joan worked at the Staten Island Museum with its collection of natural specimens, and later helped establish its Botanical Garden at Sailor Snug Harbor.
Joan was a skilled golfer, tennis player and bowler. She loved photography and travel and shared many images of Africa, China, Amsterdam and Switzerland. She was also fearless. She raced to the roof of her apartment building to capture immediate photographs of the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers and compiled an essay of her reactions over the next many weeks. She received a photo credit in "Here is New York."
After her retirement, she was a volunteer at the Whitney Museum, Big Apple Greeters of New York City, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Cornell University Cooperative Extension of New York City’s hydroponics program. She took glassmaking and watercolor painting classes and was an avid attendee of William Wolf’s film class at Lincoln Center. She was a devoted friend and up until a month before her death, maintained a newsy round-robin letter with her Curtis High classmates.
She especially loved spending time with her grandchildren and sharing in their many interests and accomplishments. She always said her true calling was to be a short-order cook, so she reveled at the opportunity to make pancakes for them in specific shapes like trains and turkeys. Thanksgiving was a cherished family holiday.
Joan is survived by, in addition to her daughter, Lisa and son-in-law, Scot, her daughter, Judy Cohen of Irvington, N.Y.; her brother and sister-in-law, Stuart and Zoe Dalheim of Lee, Mass.; grandchildren, Max and Simon Petersen and Wendy and Maddy Cohen; nieces and nephews, Diana Thomas and husband, JR, Laura Dalheim and husband, Larry Rouslin, Karen Dalheim and partner, Ron Baker, Stuart Dalheim and wife, Arohi Pathak, Rona Kosansky and husband, Jordan Glick, Alan Kosansky and wife, Pam Kritz, and Oren Kosansky and wife, Julie Hastings; 12 grandnieces and nephews; many cousins and extended family and friends. She was predeceased by brother, Leroy Dalheim and son-in-law, Alan Cohen.
Burial was October 27 in Baron Hirsch Cemetery, Staten Island.
Donations in her memory may be made to Westchester (N.Y.) Hospice, Regional Hospice and Palliative Care of Danbury, Conn., Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden of Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Published on  November 6, 2017
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