Joan Arsenault


3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home
43 Winn Street
Burlington, Massachusetts, United States

Funeral Mass

10:00 am
Monday, February 25, 2019
St. Malachy's Church
99 Bedford St.
Burlington, Massachusetts, United States


11:15 am
Monday, February 25, 2019
Pine Haven Cemetery
Bedford Street
Burlington, Massachusetts, United States

Obituary of Joan Cecilia Arsenault

Joan Cecilia Arsenault, a resident of Burlington for 62 years, passed away on Wednesday night, February 20, 2019.  She was 87 years old. 

Joan was born during the height of the Great Depression.  She was one of 9 children born to Joseph and Agnes Sullivan of Cambridge, MA.  Her father Joseph was a teacher, and a coach.  Her mother Agnes Louise was a teacher, a painter and a pianist.  Joan’s parents worked hard to keep their family of 11 warm and fed during the depression.  Despite the hard times their Harvard Square home was vibrant and full of love.  Joan had many fond memories of her childhood in Cambridge, MA.

After graduating from Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school, Joan and her sister Barbara, against her dad’s wishes and the conventions of the time, moved to Washington D.C.  Joan worked in a bank and kept in touch with her long-time sweetheart Richard Arsenault of Malden, MA.  After 4 years in D.C. she moved back to Cambridge.  Once Richard was discharged from the Army, they married in 1956.  The happy couple moved to Medford hillside and there they welcomed their first bundle of joy Norma Jean.  Joan had many happy memories of living in Medford. She liked city life and walked everywhere.  

In the 50s, like many couples of that time, Joan and Richard moved out of the city to the burgeoning suburb of Burlington.  It was a big adjustment for a city girl but Joan acclimated and grew to love her home on Greenwood Road. Joan and Richard’s family grew by four more children and she and Richard enjoyed 58 years together in Burlington. Joan went on to live with her daughter Norma upon Richard’s death in 2015.

Joan loved being a mother and grandmother.   She made everyone feel valued, special, supported and loved.  One of her favorite expressions was “As long as the children are happy.”

Her family called her “The Great Socialist” and an “Application Engineer” because she loved helping the underdog, figuring out what someone needed and then getting it for them, or rearranging possessions in order to make sure everyone would have their fair share.  She loved to bring home second-hand items and Richard would fix these without complaint; together they had a trash to treasure enterprise.

When her children where teenagers Joan went back to work.  She was a clerk at Marshalls and a home health aide. She earned enough money to buy a car--a Datsun B-210-- and taught all of her kids (and some of her friends) to drive with that car. 

She was very generous and had an open-door policy.  She helped raise her grandchildren so their parents could work or have a night off.  When a child or grandchild made a misstep, she never raised her voice because disappointing her was punishment enough. 

There were many fun filled and memorable vacations at the “Sullivan Compound” in Sandwich, MA.  Joe Sullivan and his sons-in-law built 2 cottages on a parcel of land down the street from the seashore.  Even though the accommodations were sparse, the cottages were a perfect gathering place for the large Sullivan extended family.  6 families visited during the summer, along with siblings, Joe, Betty & Barbara. Many wonderful memories were made over the summers in those humble cottages.

Joan was so many things to her family and she will be remembered for her humor, spontaneity, loyalty, devotion, faithfulness, and most importantly for the unconditional love she bestowed upon all she cared for. 

Joan was the beloved wife of Richard Francis Arsenault.  She was the loving mother of Norma Zimmermann & her husband Michael of Methuen, Lisa Giles & her husband Bruce of Malden, Colette Osborne & her husband Ted of Burlington, Diane Arsenault & her husband Chip Osgood of Ipswich, and Barry & his wife Kathy of Burlington. She was the sister of Janet Hefferle of NJ, the late Joseph, Elizabeth, & Barbara Sullivan, Marylou Bothwell, Ann Lonergan, Sheila Goodwin, and Carol Dempsey.  She was the proud grandmother of Dan, Jessica, & Andrew Giles, Lori & Matthew Zimmermann, Dean Arsenault, Nicole Jackson, Sarah & David Osgood, and Shaun, Matthew, & Christopher Tirrell.

Visiting hours will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn St., BURLINGTON (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Sunday, Feb. 24 from 3-6 p.m. Funeral from the Sullivan Funeral Home on Monday, Feb. 25 at 9 a.m. Followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Malachy Church, 99 Bedford St., Burlington at 10 a.m.  Services will conclude with a burial in Pine Haven Cemetery, Burlington.  In lieu of flowers, memorials in Joan’s name may be made to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Boston, 18 Canton Street, Stoughton, MA 02072 or For directions obituary & online guestbook see or

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