Obituary: Joan Blum, 62

Salon on Sunset

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Joan Blum, who lived most of her 62 years in Rhinebeck, died last month at her home in Kinderhook. In her 20s, she was stricken with a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that devastated her body, but also served to sharpen her mind and enliven her spirit.

Despite years of constant pain, Joan raised a daughter (and helped with two grandchildren), made a career in IBM communications, and wrote prose marked by wit, irony, and steel-tempered humor.

In the 1980s, Joan’s home on South Street in Rhinebeck—and later on Sunset Road–served as a kind of salon for creative people in the community: writers, musicians, and artists who were occasionally odd, often talented, and always grateful for something good to eat. Seated amid this swirling cast of characters, Joan orchestrated the meeting of many minds–and a few bodies, too–presiding Prospero-like over the shifting scene. Though, in truth, it was more Pirandello than Shakespeare.

A rigorous thinker with an iron will and a highly developed moral sense, Joan did not suffer fools gladly. But many of us, fools or no, will long remember her generous, uncomplaining nature, her passionate loyalty to family and friends, and her extraordinary courage.

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