With humble acceptance of God’s will, we announce the home going of Joanne Maria Koopalethes (JoJo), treasured wife, mother, grandmother, and dear friend to many. Joanne transitioned to eternal life on Thursday, August 20, at age 70, in Leesburg, VA, with her husband and children by her bedside.
Joanne, also known as “JoJo” to her cherished grandchildren, was the beloved wife of Nicholas Koopalethes for more than 48 years. Joanne was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1950 as an American citizen to the late William F. Kuster (Bill), and the late Lydia Kuster (nee Pirazzini), while Bill was on assignment to create a Pan American Airways presence in the Middle East. Joanne had two siblings, her older brother, the late Lawrence (Larry), and younger sister Lorraine (Laurie). The Kuster family also lived in Beirut, Lebanon, and later in Hamburg, Germany, where Joanne attended an English (UK) school that she loved and where she learned to speak German. At the age of 7, the family moved to Wantagh, New York, where Joanne attended the local high school, graduating with honors, and then on to Concordia College in Bronxville, NY, where she studied liberal arts and music.
In 1967, she met her brother’s best friend from college, “Nick the Greek” from Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. He immediately fell in love, and after nearly five years of relationship building, they were married on February 5, 1972. Most noteworthy of Joanne’s life was her quest for life’s meaning after her first child, Kathryn, was born. Her search for truth was fulfilled when she made her personal commitment to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in 1975. Her life was miraculously transformed, and in the years following, she led many others to Christ, beginning with her husband, and later all of her children, and many in the Koopalethes extended family. Joanne’s Christ-Centered ministry included music — as a gifted pianist and worship leader, Bible teacher- especially to women’s groups, piano teacher, poetry and song writer, and most recently, pencil and watercolor art.
She was always excited to travel and loved her yearly trip to Hawaii with her husband. JoJo was deeply passionate and could find God’s creative handiwork in everything. She had a beautiful smile, a contagious laugh and an embrace that carried God’s peace. Her love for Jesus inspired her to pray diligently for every need that was brought to her attention, and to support orphans, church plantings, and Christian media outlets around the world.
Joanne is survived by her beloved husband, Nick; their two daughters, Kathryn Lydia Costa and Bethany Maria Bomberger; one son, Reverend Nicholas Alexander; and their spouses; 12 grandchildren; and sister, Lorraine (nee Kuster) Labovitz. Joanne’s love for all her grandchildren was always the focus for her prayers, naming each one in her daily devotions, praying for each, and investing time and whatever other resources she believed was required to help them fulfill God’s plan for their lives. This investment in God’s Kingdom, we believe, will be her greatest legacy.
Reverend George Costa, Kathryn’s husband, remembers Joanne as a special spiritual mother the Lord provided when, as an empty teenager, she relentlessly introduced him to Jesus Christ with the eventual result of George being delivered from a troubled life of addiction and given a divine purpose to serve God. She shall be sorely missed until that day when she greets each of us who are in Christ, and takes us by the hand, and says, “Wait until you see this.” “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Due to COVID restrictions, guests are asked to RSVP for the funeral and burial at www.CelebrateJoJosLife.com. You may also send condolences here.
Funeral services will be held Friday, August 28, 2020, at Colonial Funeral Home, 201 Edwards Ferry Road NE, Leesburg, VA from 11 to 11:30 a.m. with a Greeting the Family at 11:30 a.m. A short service honoring JoJo’s Christ-filled life and her beautiful artwork will be on display in addition to photographs reflecting her joy of life, family and friends. Graveside and burial will be 11 a.m. Saturday, August 29, 2020, at Historic Evergreen Cemetery, 799 Baltimore Street, Gettysburg, PA 17325.
Donations in Joanne’s name should be directed to the Cancer Treatment Center of America through the Gateway for Cancer Research at https://bit.ly/2Eygw8A. Due to the COVID restrictions for travel and gatherings, funeral attendance is limited to 50 people. Because of this, a special Celebration of Life gathering in Joanne’s honor is being planned for a future date, after COVID restrictions are lifted, so that we may gather, express our love, celebrate her life, celebrate Jesus Christ, her savior who now she is with.