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1940 Joan Dillon Sangunitto 2023

Joan Dillon Sangunitto

January 15, 1940 — December 13, 2023

San Diego

Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother

To the world you were a mother, to us you were the world.

Josephine Anne Dillon Sangunitto of Brooklyn, New York died December 13, 2023 in San Diego, California.  She was 83 years of age.

Joan was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 15, 1940 to Josephine and Michael Dillon in the Prospect Heights Neighborhood of Brooklyn.  A graduate of Immaculata High School, she met the love of her life, Leon Paul Sangunitto, when she was 15.  The two were married on December 3, 1961.

For twenty years, Joan and Leon raised their five children in Brooklyn, New York in a home filled with all four grandparents and so much love.   There were parishioners at St. Vincent Ferrer where all five kids attended grammar school.   Summers were spent camping along the east coast, always with extra kids and other families in tow.  Three times she packed up the family of seven and drove cross country and back in a pop-up trailer stopping at every national park, giant ball of yarn or majestic vista across this wonderful country. 

Joan worked at Brooklyn College once all the kids were in school. They left Brooklyn in 1980 heading west to Salt Lake City and eventually settling in San Diego in a place they considered paradise surrounded by their family.  She retired from the San Diego County Housing and Community Development in 2010.

Joan is survived by her husband of 62 years, Leon Paul Sangunitto, her sister Katherine Shea, her five children, Sharon Schuh, (Tim), Janice, James (Connie), Thomas (Elvira) and Joan McKeon (Jason), her bonus daughter Kim, her 7 grandchildren, her 5 great-grandchildren and many loyal friends and extended family members. There is no one who met her who didn’t believe they were part of the family. 

Joan was predeceased by her parents, her in-laws, James and Catherine Sangunitto, her brothers Michael (Anne), Bobby, sister Maureen Pielli (Arthur) and brother-in-law, Jerry Shea.

Joan was the center of our family universe and considered a mother and grandmother to so many others.  She loved gathering the family and friends together and was famous for her meatballs, sausage stuffing and gravy.  Each Thanksgiving she would cook 7-9 turkey breasts and pounds of potatoes and stuffing, just to be sure everyone went home with leftovers.  And no matter how small the gathering it was never without a bowl of Ruffle potato chips and onion dip.

She was a voracious reader, loved to shop and appeared to never stop and sit down unless it was for a marathon phone call with her sisters, life-long friends, family, or anyone who just needed to talk.  She had a wicked sense of humor, loved to drop a four-letter word now and then and could tell a great story.  She will be remembered for the generosity of her time and heart.  She gathered people to her wherever she went and once she had; she would never let you go.  Once you were family, you were family for life. 

A celebration of life will take place on February 17th at the Carlton Oaks Country Club in Santee, California.  For more information and to RSVP, please refer to Joan's memorial website at:


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan Dillon Sangunitto, please visit our flower store.


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