Joan Malkovich died September 3, 2021 in Newport, Rhode Island. She was 88.
Mrs. Malkovich was born Joan Anita Shewring on August 21, 1933 at Newport Hospital in Newport, RI. Her parents Douglas Shewring and Elsa (Svensson) Shewring worked for Arthur Curtiss James, a noted 20th century industrialist, which included his residence Beacon Hill House and the Surprise Valley Farm, known locally as the Swiss Village. The family spent their summers at the estate, and resided the rest of the year at the Arthur Curtiss James House in New York City.
She attended PS6 in Manhattan then went to boarding school at the Northfield School for Girls in Northfield, MA where she earned high honors and lettered in lacrosse. She later graduated from Briarcliff Manor Junior College in Briarcliff Manor, NY with an Associate’s degree. Mrs. Malkovich made several transatlantic trips with her parents to both England and Sweden, one aboard the Swedish American Line ocean liner MS Stockholm.
She began her professional career as a medical assistant to Dr. William M. Hitzig, a prominent New York physician. In 1955 she joined Dr. Hitzig and Norman Cousins, the editor of the Saturday Review of Literature, in bringing 24 women from Hiroshima, dubbed the “Hiroshima Maidens”, who were disfigured by the atomic bomb to New York City for plastic and reconstructive surgery and emotional counseling.
She met her future husband Mark P. Malkovich in Carnegie Hall. He was awestruck by this vivacious woman who let her feathered boa trail behind her down the aisle. They married in 1959 at the Holy Name Church in Manhattan officiated by The Most Reverend, Stephen J. Donahue, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. Together, they raised three sons and a daughter.
In 1969 the family moved to Waterloo, Belgium where they spent four and a half happy years. After relocating back to the US the family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, the place of her birth. There she supported her husband’s passion for classical music when he took over directing The Newport Music Festival. Eventually she, along with her children, became engrossed in the enterprise devoting 35 years in service to the organization until her retirement in 2017. She was a friend and hostess to artists who came to Newport from around the world. She received a gold medal from the City of Newport for her many contributions.
Mrs. Malkovich was an avid reader and lover of animals and thrilled in observing the wildlife surrounding her Prescott Farm home in Portsmouth, RI where she lived since 1987. The ducks, geese, rabbits and birds were dear to her and it seemed they all knew when she came outside that it was time for dinner. She had a sharp wit and an indomitable spirit. She adored the music of Frederic Chopin and could often be heard singing along to one of his works.
Her husband often said that he made friends easily, but it was Joan who kept them. She may have seemed reserved at first, but once you knew Joan she was a most loyal friend to have. She never missed a birthday or anniversary. Tragically, Mark was killed in a car accident in 2010. Joan was devastated but never lost her wonderful spirit and good cheer.
Mrs. Malkovich is survived by her children Mark Malkovich of Newport, RI; Erik Malkovich of Newport, RI; Kent Malkovich of Beaufort, SC; and Kara Malkovich of Portsmouth, RI, and their significant others. She leaves her brother Douglas Shewring and sister-in-law Kathi Shewring of Newport, RI; and a sister-in-law Shirley Christenson of Rockport, MA. She was pre-deceased by her sister-in-law Carol Jean Malkovich and brother-in-law William Christenson.
The family would like to thank the compassionate staff at Newport Hospital. We would like to extend our appreciation to the visiting nurses from Portsmouth Visiting Nurse Home & Hospice and the CNAs that gave her great loving care.
Funeral arrangements are by Memorial Funeral Home. Due to current circumstances, there will be no wake and the funeral will be private. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to a charity of one’s choice. Please feel free, however, to share your memories and condolences in the online guest book at memorialfuneralhome.com.
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