Joan Melber Warburg, longtime Greenwich resident and passionate advocate for child and family welfare, world peace, women’s rights, and the arts, died on Wednesday at age 93.
A deep believer in the value of volunteering, she served on over 40 boards, always devoting her enthusiasm and energy to the causes she believed in. Born in Bronxville, New York, to Charles and Jennie Melber, she studied business at Simmons College on a scholarship. The first in her family to attend college, she recalled those years as giving her “the confidence and self-esteem I needed to go out into the real world.”
In 1973, she became a permanent member of the College’s Executive Committee, later chaired numerous college fundraising campaigns, and served as president of the College Corporation from 1992 to 1995.
After marrying James P. Warburg, a writer on foreign affairs, in 1948, Joan moved to Greenwich, where she raised four children and became actively involved in civic and charitable causes.
For more than half a century, she served on the board of the Family Centers (formerly Greenwich Center for Child and Family Services), where the Early Childhood Center now bears her name.
A leading volunteer for the United Way, she chaired its 50th anniversary campaign and was awarded its Volunteer of the Year Award in 1983 as well as its first Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award in 2000.
Among many other local involvements, she co-chaired the “Greenwich 350” celebration in 1990.
For her many charitable and civic commitments, the YWCA gave her the “Spirit of Greenwich” award in 1996, and the Rotary Club named her “Citizen of the Year” in 2003.
Joan Warburg’s interests and involvements outside Greenwich included many years of service on the board of The Acting Company, which awarded her the John Houseman Award in 2000, and on the national board of Young Audiences.
She was a board member and dedicated supporter of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England a cofounder of the New York Women’s Foundation, where she was named Honorary Board Chair in 2000-2001.
An ardent Democratic Party supporter at all levels of government, she also was active in several organizations advocating for nuclear disarmament.
Joan was surrounded by loving family members during the last stages of a long illness at King Street Rehab in Rye Brook.
In addition to her four children and their spouses, James (Claudia), Jennifer, Philip (Tamar), and Sally Bliumis-Dunn (John), she is survived by a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends, all of whom loved her and will miss her deeply. The family would like to express its gratitude to the many people who cared for Joan throughout her life, particularly in her final years.
Funeral services and a reception will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday, April 5, at the Round Hill Community Church and Community Center, 395 Round Hill Road, in Greenwich. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.