This obituary originally appeared on Memorial Funeral Home.
Joanne (Ebbitt) Armenia, 73, of Newport RI and Melbourne FL, passed away Feb 23, 2021 at Newport Hospital with her loving husband and daughter by her side. Sadly, she was among the many Americans who have succumbed to Covid-19.
Joanne was born in Newport RI to Irene (Renaud) Ebbitt of Middletown and the late Richard J. Ebbitt Jr. of Newport. She attended Carey School in Newport and graduated from Rogers HS in 1966. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island and began her teaching career at Forest Avenue Elementary School in Middletown RI. She went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Salve Regina University and continued in that specialty for many years. She was a dedicated Navy wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, and friend.
Joanne met her beloved husband of 47 years, Michael P Armenia, in 1973 in Newport. Michael, formerly commissioned at OCS in Newport, was subsequently assigned to the USS Little Rock (CLG-4) Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet. They married, and soon embarked on an adventure as the USS Little Rock received orders to change home port as Flagship US Navy Sixth Fleet, Gaeta, Italy. Joanne quickly became an active participant within the ship’s wives organization. She readily adapted to her new role as a Navy wife and spent her time supporting families whose husbands were at sea in the Mediterranean for extended periods. She embraced her new hometown in Italy where she learned to speak Italian and enjoyed helping her friends live off of the local economy. The period of 1973-1975 was a period of international political “detente” involving the ports and countries dominated by the then Soviet fleet. The US Flagship performed a diplomatic mission in opening many ports again to US ships in Northern Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkan states. Joanne joined several Navy wives as world citizens who travelled to the former Eastern bloc ports as ambassadors of good will; informally influencing history and the eventual winding down of the cold war. Their daughter Tracey was born in 1974 within the active volcanic area surrounding Naples called Pozzuoli (Naples) Italy.
The family then moved back to the States where Joanne resumed teaching in Connecticut and Rhode Island. In 1983 the family built their home in Newport’s Fifth Ward, behind the Lilly Pond, close to where Joanne grew up on Weatherly Avenue. As a girl Joanne enjoyed ice-skating on Lily Pond in the winters and swam at Gooseberry Beach in the summer with her childhood friends. Joanne’s mother Irene was an active congregant and choir member at St Augustine’s Church for many years. Her father Richard retired from the Newport Police Department and was an active baseball umpire and basketball referee throughout Aquidneck Island at all levels. Her parents raised her with a strong connection to the community.
In recent years Joanne discovered a group of like-minded compassionate leaders and cherished their fellowship as a member of Channing Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Newport RI and Friendship Fellowship Universalist Congregation in Melbourne FL. She served the Newport Congregation for eight years as the Co-chair of the Church’s core social action committee bearing witness for improved legislation in areas of human rights, homelessness, domestic violence, sensible gun legislations and other causes.
Joanne is survived by her mother Irene Renaud Ebbitt resident at Grand Islander Home Middletown; her daughter Tracey Stich and husband Daniel C Stich of Portsmouth, grandchildren Daniel Michael Stich and Katherine Rose Stich; faithful pet companions Ledo and Odie; and many cherished relations from the Ebbitt, Underwood, Ceglie, Dugal, Armenia and Stich families.
The family is especially grateful to cherished caregivers Christine Gaudreau, Rachel Gaspar, Lily Lauricella, Diane Jackson and Judy Bulliner; who provided Joanne with exceptional support throughout the years during many health challenges.
She is predeceased in death by her beloved father Richard James Ebbitt Jr.
Calling hours will be held Friday March 5th 2021 from 9:00am to 1:00pm in the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway in Newport. Due to restrictions in place due to COVID-19, indoor attendance is limited, so wait times during calling hours may be longer than usual.
A private burial service will follow at RI Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, RI.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to Housing Hotline http://link.memorial/donateHH or Newport Mental Health, Housing Hotline, Attn: Development Department, 127 Johnny Cake Hill Rd, Middletown, RI 02842.
A celebration of life will be held at Channing Memorial Church in Newport when we deem it is safe to gather.