In Memory of




Obituary for Joan A. Cooledge

Joan Alison Cooledge of Arlington, Massachusetts passed away quietly in her sleep at Brightview Arlington, age 89. Joan was born in 1930 in Arlington, Massachusetts, daughter of Sara Louise Price and Walter Scott Cooledge, Jr. She graduated from Arlington High School and was one of only six music majors at Wellesley College, class of 1952. Rare for most of us, Joan was “pitch-perfect” and played the piano with an ear that was the envy of most musicians. She later graduated from George Washington University in Washington, DC and then earned a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. Joan always had an extra spot in her home and in her heart for family and her many friends.

Joan had a life-long love of travel having spent ten years with her first husband, historian and author William Roe Polk, living in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and England. With her second husband, Unitarian minister, Rev. Rudolph Nemser, she lived and worked as an educator in Virginia while pursuing her graduate degrees. Later she returned to Arlington where she was a longtime employee of Cambridge City Hospital working as a Psychiatric Social Worker. She spent time traveling in the Middle East, India and Europe. She was active in various organizations at Harvard University and supported visiting scholars from the Middle East.

Her survivors include her brother, Walter Scott Cooledge, III, (siblings Sara Jane Cooledge Hamilton and David Forrest Cooledge predeceased her); her daughter Milbry Catherine Polk, husband Dr. Phillip Bauman and daughters, Adelaide, Milbry (Bree) and Mary Harding; daughter Alison Elizabeth Polk and son William Alexander Hoffman and wife Nancy Cerqueira Hoffman; daughter Tobey Johanna Nemser, husband Michael DeMartino and children Gregory Tang, Emily Blossom, husband Trent Blossom, Katherine Tang, and step-grandchildren Joseph and Jackson DeMartino; nieces Sara Hamilton, Mary Hamilton, Gretchen Cooledge Dressens, Megan Cooledge and nephew Scott Andrew Cooledge and their children; and her step-daughters Sarah Holt and Katherine Kelly.

The family wants to recognize the amazing staff at Brightview Arlington for caring for her with compassion and dignity during the last years of her life. They also request, in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to Visiting Nurse and Community Care, 37 Broadway #2, Arlington, MA 02474.

A Celebration of Life service will be held in the Spring.