Joan Fineman Jaffe, 74, a longtime resident of Huntingdon Valley, died of cancer Sunday, May 12, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.
For the last 15 years, she and her husband, Marvin, had lived in Skillman, N.J., and Naples, Fla.
Mrs. Jaffe was known within her family for her oil portraits of her children and grandchildren, a skill that had been nurtured early in life.
Her father's uncle was Samuel Noah Kramer, a Russian immigrant and Philadelphia public-school teacher who became the University of Pennsylvania's Clark research professor of Assyriology, the study of a civilization that flourished in present-day Iraq 4,000 years ago.
"Joan would spend weekends there, visiting," in a home rich in culture, Marvin Jaffe said in an interview Wednesday.
Even at 7 or 8 years old, he said, she would be schooled by Kramer and his wife, a mathematician, who would "bring out books and pencils and do art projects" with her and other children in the household.
"Throughout her schooling," her husband said, Mrs. Jaffe "was going to after-school and summer programs at the Philadelphia College of Art," not for credit but simply "for enrichment."
Born in Philadelphia, Mrs. Jaffe graduated from Germantown High School in 1955, married in 1957, and earned a bachelor's degree in medical technology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959.
"She worked for a couple of years at Penn, doing research in hematology," the study of blood and blood diseases, for a medical school professor there.
Mrs. Jaffe did not begin painting oil portraits of her children all at once, her husband said. "She would wait until the children were old enough to have their personalities showing through."
After she and her husband moved to Florida, he said, she took classes at an art alliance.
"She showed, small shows, down there," but never did commercial shows because she did not want to sell her portraits.
"She was giving them to her family" through the years, he said, so much so that "I don't have one in the house."
She was a member of Hadassah and the social group the Red Hat Society.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Jaffe is survived by sons Jonathan, Matthew, and Joshua; a daughter, Ondria Wasem; a brother, and 10 grandchildren.
A visitation was set from 1 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Star of David Memorial Chapel, 40 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton, before a 2 p.m. memorial service there.
Donations may be made at www.hadassah.org.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.starofdavidmemorialchapelnj.com.