Cover photo for Joan Preston Vienneau's Obituary
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1930 Vienneau 2024

Joan Preston Vienneau

February 7, 1930 — March 6, 2024



February 7, 1930–March 6, 2024


“Pretty as a picture…plays a solid saxophone…Sarah Bernhardt’s stand-in…laughing brown eyes…MGM Records…fascinating, and a little different.”

These phrases written beneath her senior picture from Mary Louis Academy in 1948 ring as true today as they did then…except for the saxophone part. Our mother, Joan Marie Preston Vienneau—known as Joanie to her friends and grandchildren—was a beauty, a creative playful force, forever in love with her husband, our father, Jim (Mr MGM!) and much-loved by friends and family for her fascinating, and a little different, take on life.


Joanie was a woman with boundless energy and interests: She enjoyed drawing and printmaking, but excelled as a watercolorist. She was wreath-maker for all seasons. She was also a Girl Scout leader, golfer, bowler, accomplished bridge player and puzzler extraordinaire, making short work of the Sunday New York Time’s double-crostic. She had a stint as a wallpaper hanger in her brief and unsung enterprise, “The Pickwick Paperers.” No stranger to scissors, hammer or a glue gun: Joanie had turned her wedding dress into curtains, turned our home garage into a craft cranny workshop, turned all the paintings in our house upside-down, to see if our father would notice.


She was born in Flushing, Queens, New York on February 7, 1930, the third child of Walter and Frances Preston. She inherited great talents from both parents: Walter was a Juilliard School trained musician with a soulful baritone voice and could play ‘most anything on the piano by ear. Her mother was a seasoned and formidable New York City school teacher—don’t mess with Frances. Joanie learned to play piano well (but Not the sax!) and would vocally harmonize with her sister Ginny and two brothers, Walt and Ray. She favored the music of the Big Band era, knew the songs by heart to all the Gershwin musicals and was crazy for old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra.  She got her degree from Queens College in Education. Juggling the roles of housewife, mother and teacher, she taught part-time as a substitute. After raising her family of 4, she could devote full-time focus to teaching. She became the Art and Music teacher for all the elementary grades at Christ the King School in Nashville, a role she served in for almost 20 years. She felt that the arts were vital to an enriched life and she always nurtured artistic expression.


While she loved her life with Jim and us kids on Long Island, she was excited for our family to make the grand move to Nashville in 1965, which was when MGM Records had transferred Jim to open up their country music division. Joanie was quick to establish a wide circle of friends. She knew how to be a good friend. When her neighbor Bev became widowed, she moved her family to Nashville to be near Joanie. Same with her friend Mim, who moved to a condo in the same subdivision, after she lost her husband.  Joanie was active in the community, involved in several service organizations. She was a long-time volunteer for the Ladies of Charity.


Joanie loved to entertain (at times, too much!) She and Jim were known as “the hosts with most,” putting on big holiday gatherings, birthday celebrations, Derby and Super Bowl parties, bridge luncheons, you name it. She always kept vases of fresh flowers in the house. Decorating for Christmas was a Herculean feat—every square inch covered in lights, baubles, wreaths, candles, angels, Nativity scenes. She loved Christmas.


Other loves? A good sale. Scotch-and-soda. Lamb chops and lobster tails. A lavish dessert, typically chocolate. Going to the movies. Engaging in friendly game of Spite-and-Malice. Going on a cruise. Being with family: her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


She passed in a tranquil state on March 6, 2024 at the age of 94 in Nashville Tennessee after having spoken with many of her loved ones. This was just 4 months after the death of Jim, to whom she was married for 71 years. She was listening to “I’ll Be Seeing You,” performed by Sinatra with the Tommy Dorsey Band as she made her transition.


We write this with much love for her and our dad, grateful that they’ll be seeing each other once again—daughters Nancy, Carole, Barbara, son Jim; our respective spouses Bill, Daryl, Ted and Adelaide; granddaughter Madeleine; grandsons Dan, Alex and Preston; great grandchildren Zachary and Gracie. We’ll be holding a private service initially and a celebration of life at a later date.


To send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Preston Vienneau, please visit our flower store.


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