Joan L. Briggs Ashton, 79, formerly of Ogdensburg
Sunday, November 26, 2017 - 11:06 am

Joan L. Briggs Ashton, 79, passed away Monday night, November 20, 2017, surrounded by loving family. Memorial services will be held on Saturday, December 9, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Frary Funeral Home in Ogdensburg.

Joan is survived by her children, Jacqueline “Jackie” A. de Floris and her husband, Audouin, of Mousseaux-sur-Seine, France, Elizabeth A. Carter and her husband, Michael, of Lansdale, PA, Katherine L. Ashton of Delmar, NY, and David M. Ashton of Austin, TX; her three grandsons, Samuel “Sam” B. Ashton of Paris, France, Justin M. Carter of Newark, DE, and Paul W. Carter of Baldwinsville, NY; her sister, Kathryn Briggs Johnson of Norwood, NY, and her brother, William “Bill” Briggs and his wife, Deirdre, of Lincolnville, ME; her aunt, Barbara Kelly Smith and her husband, Ira, of Acton, MA, and her uncle, Earle Johnston of Heuvelton, NY; much-loved nieces and nephews; many dear cousins from both her Briggs and Kelly extended families; and her rescue cat, Lucy. She is predeceased by her brother, Richard Briggs.

Joan was born on July 8, 1938, in Ogdensburg, the daughter of Paul F. and Marian Kelly Briggs of Van Rensselaer Road. She graduated from Ogdensburg Free Academy in 1956 and received her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Rochester in 1960, a member of only the second class of women permitted to attend the formerly men-only university. Joan went on to study towards a Master’s in Elementary Education from Syracuse University, and eventually obtained her Master’s in Psychology in 1998 from the New School of Social Research’s Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Research in New York City.

Joan was most famously known as “Miss Joan”, host from 1965-1969 of the regional broadcast of “Romper Room” transmitted by WNYS-TV, CBS Channel 9, out of Syracuse, NY. After leaving broadcast television, Joan was an elementary school teacher, specializing in fourth through sixth grades, at the King School in Syracuse, NY, and, after an eight-year break while she lived in Maryland, taught in both public and private schools in Old Greenwich, CT, and New York City, including P.S. 9, until 1995. She kept in touch with many of her former students as the years went on, spending many a late night in recent years catching up with them on Facebook, and was as happy to brag of their achievements and growth as her children’s and grandsons’.

Joan loved the arts, taking advantage of and supporting the public and private visual and performing arts venues in the Washington, DC, New York City, and the New York Capital District metro areas, and she encouraged the same in her children and grandchildren. Joan was a staunch advocate and supporter of causes such as public school education, protecting the environment, civil rights, women’s rights, and animal protection (particularly the wild horses of America’s West). An avid reader, Joan kept up with award-winning and obscure fiction and nonfiction over the decades, and gave fantastic suggestions and gifts of books for children and adults. Some of her favorite memories (that don’t involve Paris, London, Audra McDonald singing, or Paul O’Neill hitting home runs) involved the shores of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which she adored in all weather. Most important were her children and grandchildren, whom she loved deeply and of whom she was exceedingly proud.

Joan’s family would like to thank the caregivers, nurses, doctors, and staff of the Eddy Village Green at Beverwyck in Slingerlands, NY, for taking such good care of her in her final year. They also ask that those who loved and miss “Miss Joan” consider making a donation to the Lewy Body Dementia Association (

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