Joan F. Santelli, retired teacher

November 10, 2023

Joan F. Santelli, 93, of Dover, passed away Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, at Delaware Hospice Center in Milford. 

Born Feb. 18, 1930, in Tarentum, Pa., she was the daughter of the late Alex and Lillian (Vagnone) Guadagno. After graduating from St. Joseph’s High School in Natrona, Pa., she attended University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University, graduating from the latter with a bachelor’s degree in theoretical economics and political science. She worked as a bookkeeper for her father’s steel business, and after her marriage, moved to Bellerose, N.Y., where she worked as a reference librarian for Hanover Bank in Manhattan.

She received a master's degree in education from the C.W. Post College in Long Island, as well as teaching certification, in both New York state and New York City. She was appointed to a teaching position at Abigail Adams School in Jamaica Estates, N.Y., where she went on to implement two special programs in addition to her regular teaching duties: Family Living and Sex Education, and Educating Talented and Gifted Children.

In 1987, she and her husband retired to an adult community in New Jersey, Homestead at Mansfield, where they lived for 18 years. In addition to obtaining a New Jersey teaching certification and substitute teaching for three years, she became active on several committees, served as a delegate from her section for two years, and on the board of trustees for two years, including one year as president. She also served on the board of trustees of Lakeland Harbour in Lakeland, Fla., where they wintered for 18 years. She and her husband moved to the Wild Meadows community in Dover in 2005. Playing bridge, both in person and online, was her favorite pastime.

In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, Lawrence; and her sisters, Lois Walker and Mary Lou Vincolo.

Survivors include a son, Alexander of Torrance, Calif.; a daughter and son-in-law, Mary Jo and Dr. Robert A. Moyer of Lewes; a brother, Louis Guadagno (Judy) of New Hamburg, N.Y.; and her devoted nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Nov.14, at Church of the Holy Cross, 631 S. State St., Dover. Visitation will be held from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m., Tuesday morning before Mass, at the Funeral Home of Michael J. Ambruso, 1175 S. State St., Dover. Entombment will be private in Holy Cross Cemetery, Dover.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Joan’s memory to The Samaritans of Holy Cross, 631 South State St., Dover, DE 19901; or to Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford, DE 19963.

To share a fond memory of Joan or to offer a condolence to her family, visit

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