Cover photo for Joan Marie Donahue Ostendorf's Obituary

Joan Marie Donahue Ostendorf

December 9, 1933 — December 20, 2022

Hunting Valley

Joan Marie Donahue Ostendorf

Civic Leader, Volunteer and Fundraiser.

Joan Marie Donahue Ostendorf


Joan Marie Donahue Ostendorf was born December 9,1933 in her beloved Boston, MA to Genevieve Morrissey Donahue and John Stanley Donahue. She grew up between Duxbury and Beacon Street until moving to Chestnut Hill. She was a student at the Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (1952) and received her BA from Marymount College in 1956.


After postgraduate studies in education at Boston University she taught in Boston and Waltham public schools from 1956-1962. Joan adored teaching as much as she loved Boston, however after meeting Edgar Louis Ostendorf II, son of Mary McDonnell Ostendorf and Edgar Louis Ostendorf Sr, co-founder of Ostendorf-Morris Co., love took her to where she would spend much of the rest of her life—Cleveland, Ohio. They married on February 10th, 1962 and made their home in Hunting Valley for the next 60 years.


It is said that her father John helped to save Boston Common and cared deeply about the park remaining public land. Luckily for the city of Cleveland, Joan took a cue from her father’s civic interest.


Joan devoted herself to organizations involved in health care and the arts upon her arrival to Cleveland in 1962, taking on leadership roles in many of the city’s most renowned non-profit and civic organizations. She was a member of the Junior League of the City of Cleveland from 1964, including serving as VP in 1972-73. She served as one of the founders of the women’s committee of the Cleveland Orchestra, serving as its first Vice President in 1975. Her and Ed’s ‘Racy Rendezvous’ event was so successful it became an annual benefit for the Orchestra at North Field Park.


Throughout the city’s challenges and rebirths, the couple remained a formidable team and champions for Cleveland. Charming, smart and energetic, they enjoyed nothing more than highlighting to the world what the city has to offer.


Her involvement with the Cleveland Institute of Music spanned decades and was one of her greatest passions. She was President of the Board from 1980 to 1982. Her support for the arts extended to drama with the Music and Drama Club of Cleveland where she was President from 2001 to 2003 before becoming an Honorary Member for her years of service. Her love and support for music and music education also includes her work as VP of the Cleveland International Piano Competition. In 1992 she was Chair of the Lyric Opera, and in 1996 she was a member of the Women’s Council for the Cleveland Museum of Art.


Her passion for Cleveland and those who call it home extended beyond her support for the arts. She was a Trustee of the Women’s Committee of University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve Medical School (1974), Benefit Chair of both the Visiting Nurses Association (1987-1988), and the March Of Dimes (1982), as well as Member of the Advisory Board of the Community Foundation beginning 1991. From 1977-1987, Joan represented the city of Cleveland as a delegate to the Assembly of the United Way.  For many years, Joan and Ed sponsored the Beefeaters Ball on behalf of the Cleveland chapter of the English Speaking Union, which works to encourage cultural enrichment and improve the speaking and listening skills of children across the world.


Joan was an active member of the Intown Club, Chagrin Valley Hunt Club, the International Platform Tennis Association, and 21st Century. She was also a member of the Longwood Cricket Club in her beloved Boston for 60 years.


Joan was a devoted Catholic whose faith was central to how she lived her life and to her devotion to others. She had a quiet strength and refusal to complain, always maintaining a twinkle in her eye no matter the obstacle. She kept her quick wit until the very end—one which was more than a match for her bantering grandchildren and son-in-law. She loved a great adventure, enjoyed staying up to all hours talking with her friends. Quiet and thoughtful in nature, she cared more about impact than being memorialized, however she will undeniably be remembered for her elegance, effortless sense of style, and taste for natural and artistic beauty.


Joan had an extraordinary ability to connect with everyone she met. She preferred the company of the porter to the president. She was a gifted listener who made everyone she spoke with feel equally seen and heard, taking a keen and genuine curiosity in what others were curious about. She impacted countless individuals through her charitable work and her influence reaches far and wide across this great city, felt by many who might not know her name—in hospitals, schools, and musical venues.


Most of all she enjoyed the company of her only daughter, best friend, and closest confidante—Mary Elizabeth Ostendorf. She will be dearly missed by many, in particular her son-in-law Christopher Harvey and her four grandchildren, Brendan, Grace, Jack and Patrick Harvey. Fiercely independent in life, Joan was so grateful for the care and comfort provided to her by a generous community of caregivers. 


In Lieu of flowers please consider a donation in Joan’s name to:

The Ursuline Nuns or to the Cleveland Institute of Music


Her service is open for all those who loved Joan.


Please join us Friday, January 13th at 5 PM at Our Lady Chapel at Gilmour Academy, 34001 Cedar Road, Gates Mills, OH 44040 with a reception to follow.  FRIENDS MAY CALL AT BROWN-FORWARD, 17022 CHAGRIN BLVD., SHAKER HTS., OH 44120 ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 12TH FROM 4 TO 6:30 PM.  Private Interment.


Past Services


Thursday, January 12, 2023

4:00 - 6:30 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Friday, January 13, 2023

5:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Our Lady Chapel at Gilmour Academy

34001 Cedar Road, Gates Mills, OH 44040


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