Watchung: Joan Ellis (O’Keeffe) Harding of Watchung, one of the three O’Keeffe “Plainfield triplets” who appeared in numerous local advertisements in the 1930s, died September 13, 2020. She was 89. Mrs. Harding was born in 1930 in Plainfield, New Jersey and graduated from Plainfield High School in 1948. She married Louis R. Harding in 1954 upon Mr. Harding’s return from serving in the U.S. Army in Korea during the Korean War.
Mr. and Mrs. Harding lived first on Warfield Road in North Plainfield and later in Watchung as their family grew to seven children. They enjoyed summers on Long Beach Island, vacations in Caneel Bay in St. John, tennis, and skiing. Their parties celebrating Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, and other occasions were renowned. Joan, who loved Shetland Sheepdogs, was an award-winning dog obedience trainer and avid dog show watcher and contestant. She played tennis and practiced aerobics well into her 70s.
Joan and Lou, as Mr. Harding was called, were active in building St. Mary’s Stony Hill Church in Watchung, where Joan served as a Eucharistic minister. They also were members of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre.
Joan was Lou’s partner in all aspects of their lives and always made decisions together, while Joan served as the family “glue.” A woman of deep and unshakable faith and tireless work ethic, Joan was devoted to her family and a strong advocate for her children. She instilled in them three rules which she taught through example: Be a good person, have faith in God, and have confidence in yourself.
Her beloved husband Lou predeceased Joan in 2014. Joan is survived by her sons Larry and his wife Patricia, Richard, John and his wife Diane, and Michael; daughters Donna and her husband David, Barbara Harding Cooney, and Susanne Harding; 22 grandchildren; eight great grandchildren; her sister Jean; and her devoted caregiver and friend, Danute Smugiene.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 15th from 4-7pm at Higgins Home for Funerals, 752 Mountain Blvd., Watchung. A Mass of Resurrection will be held on Wednesday, September 16th at 10am at St. Mary’s Stony Hill Church, 225 Mountain Blvd., Watchung. Entombment will follow at St. Mary’s Stony Hill Mausoleum in Watchung.