Joan Tolces Liebman passed away at Arleigh Burke Pavilion in McLean, Virginia on Thursday, August 11, 2022, surrounded by her three beloved daughters.

Joan was born in September 1928 to Ruth (Wachsman) and Joseph Tolces in Brooklyn, New York . She graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1946. She attended New York University and studied occupational therapy because of her interests in arts and crafts and helping people. In college, Joan was introduced to Edward Liebman, a WW II Navy veteran, the brother of her sorority sister Ruth. Joan and Ed married in 1948. Joan started the next phase of her life as a Navy wife when Ed’s reserve unit was called to active duty during the Korean War, shortly after he had completed law school and gone into private practice. Though she did not graduate from NYU, Joan ultimately earned her bachelor’s degree in history from George Washington University. She continued with her love of history during her many years of service as a docent at the National Portrait Gallery, where she enjoyed telling tourists and schoolchildren stories of the Founding Fathers.

Joan loved her travels in the Navy, being stationed with Ed and their growing family in Newport, RI (twice, where they bought the house that is still in the family); Philadelphia, PA; Yokohama, Japan, and Alexandria, VA. Her daughters were born in Naval Hospitals in Queens, NY, Philadelphia, and Yokusuka, Japan.

In addition to the joy of family life, Joan’s great loves were her Jewish heritage and career as an artist. While at NYU, she studied art with Josef Presser. She also studied at the Art League of Alexandria with Dani Dawson; at Northern Virginia Community College with Michael Platt and Ann Salley; in Newport, RI with Richard Grosvenor, Natalie Pfansteil, and Angelo Marisnosci, and at the Maryland School of Art and Design with Oscar Chelimsky. She was a member of Gallery West in Alexandria, VA and Deblois Gallery in Newport, RI and had her work displayed there, as well as at the Montpelier Art Center at the Capital Center in Prince Georges County, MD, the P Street Gallery in Georgetown, and the Rachel M Schlesinger Performing Arts Center in Alexandria, VA. Among her other artistic accomplishments were the Urquart Award at the Alexandria Art League, a Blue Ribbon in the July 1990 Alexandria Art League Show, and Blue and Red Ribbons at several Vinson Hall art exhibitions, as well as service as Director of Gallery West.

Joan was a longtime member of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia, serving on their Board and as President of the Sisterhood, and Congregation Jeshuat Israel at Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI. She also attended services at Kesher Israel in Georgetown and Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria/Arlington.

Joan was preceded in death by her husband, Edward J. Liebman, CDR (ret) US Navy. She is survived by her daughters Margaret (Peggy) Harrison, Amy Lewis and husband Neil, Myra Slepoy, and husband Andrew; grandchildren Jacqueline Mintz and husband Jason, Greg Lewis, Dana Zucker and husband Matt, Isabel Spiro and husband Robert, and Dara Slepoy; and great-grandchildren Allyson and Aaron Mintz, and Noah Spiro.

A graveside service will be held on Monday, August 15 at 11:00 am at Beth Olam Cemetery, 181 Wyatt Road, Middletown, RI. 

Donations may be made in Joan’s memory to the General Fund of Congregation Jeshuat Israel, 85 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840. (

 Arrangements are by the Chevra Kadisha Association of Newport County.