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Joan T. Rochford, 86, accomplished businesswoman

Joan T. Rochford laughed her way through life while raising seven children, running her own business, and travelling the world.

Joan T. Rochford
Joan T. RochfordRead more

If Joan T. Rochford were to have written her own obituary, she would have said that she graduated from Chestnut Hill College with honors, and died this month at age 81.

She had "1936" engraved on the family's tombstone as her birth year more than a decade ago, when her husband, John, died.

Truth is, while Mrs. Rochford was very smart, she likely embellished when she said she graduated with honors, said her daughter, Kyle Ann Connelly.  And she was born in 1931, but wanted to stay forever five years younger.

On Tuesday, June 6, Mrs. Rochford, of Haddonfield, died after a brief hospitalization. She really was 86. Much of her time in recent years was spent at her homes in Avalon, N.J., and Naples, Fla.

She was a mother of seven and a businesswoman recognized for her accomplishments through several awards and election to the Pennsylvania Mortgage Banking Association.

She was an advocate for women entrepreneurship while serving on numerous boards, including that of the Forum for Executive Women. She also had been active on committees encouraging inclusion of women on corporate boards and in the workplace, her daughter said.

Whatever her mother did, her daughter said, she had fun. She was the kind of person who made others smile when she walked into a room, and she told her children to enjoy themselves because "life is not a dress rehearsal."

In 2001, Mrs. Rochford told an Inquirer reporter that she took a sabbatical when a friend invited her to go to Europe for a few weeks without her husband and children.

"I always believed, if you miss an opportunity, they don't come back again," Mrs. Rochford said. She began taking European holidays every year, sometimes staying as long as a month. Other times she spent a few weeks at her friend's villa in South America.

"It made us feel young and gay," Mrs. Rochford said at the time. "It was the freedom of not having the responsibility of a family, of seeing something totally different, of being part of someone else's universe."

Mrs. Rochford studied psychology at Chestnut Hill. After graduation, she married in 1955. While raising her children, she started a business in Haddonfield making brown bag lunches that were delivered to those who worked in town.

Next, about 1980, she founded the Rochford Associates printing firm, working from her home. The company created mortgage application packets. The business expanded as her husband and two children joined the firm, and they hired about 20 employees.

When Mrs. Rochford retired, she was the company's president and had 35 years of experience in mortgage banking. One of her proudest moments, her daughter said, was seeing her son, Neal, elected as Haddonfield's mayor last month.

In addition to her daughter and son, Mrs. Rochford is survived by children, John, Peter, Bridget Atzinger, and Dana Lynn; 20 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and a sister. She was preceded in death by a son, Brian.

A viewing is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at Kain-Murphy Funeral Services, 15 West End Ave., Haddonfield. A Funeral Mass  will be said at 2 p.m. Monday, June 12,  at Christ the King Church, 200 Windsor Ave., Haddonfield. Interment will be private.

Donations may be made to Nemours Children's Health, 1600 Rockland Rd., Wilmington, Del. 19803, or at nemours.org.

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