It’s always sad when you lose a friend, even one you haven’t seen in a while, and this week I am so sorry to hear of the death of a wonderful old friend. Joan Byrne. Joan died Friday and will be remembered in a mass Monday, March 15 at St. Agnes Church in Atlantic Highlands. Joan and Marty Byrne were a terrific couple who were always the life of the party, Marty because he was so open, heartwarming and Irish, Joan because she was the silent, always approving wife that knew her happy-go-lucky Irish husband just had to make people laugh. I remember Joan sitting in the crowds with everyone uproarious ovr something Marty said, and she, having heard his stories dozens of times already, simply nodding and smiling with pride and approval. She was proud of her own German stock but knew Marty had to have his Irish way. She was a nurse, a graduate of St. Michael’s School of Nursing in Newark and was precise and perfect in her profession. She would never cut a corner, never let a complaint pass without trying to resolve the issue, loving every school kid who came into her nurse’s office be it for a band-aid, a time-out or simply to have a word with a friend they knew would understand them. Highlands kids were better for Joan Byrne being their nurse. In Hilton Park, she was part of the crowd that made that very special piece of Middletown…and Highlands where they fit in as neighbors regardless of the borough/township line….such a great place to raise children. The Byrnes were there with the Brennans, the Kirks, the Huettls, the Klevas, (well, almost in Hilton Park, right on the edge!) and so many other young families who raised their kids to be good, kind, understanding, thoughtful and nice to each other. The kids all grew up that way, too! A piece of Joan died when her beloved Marty died several years ago and she continued to live in their cozy home in Hilton Park until a fall and subsequent illness forced her family to move her to more professional settings. It was the way Joan wanted it. As Joan wished, there will be no funeral, no gathering to upset others’ lives, no public remembrance other than the March 15 mass at St. Agnes. Joan did leave one other wish as well, though, which everyone could do for her. She asked that each person who wants to remember her, and remember who she really was, simply do something nice or kind for someone else. That will make a great lady very happy. My prayers and sympathy to her wonderful, thoughtful and understanding children, son Marty and his wife, Geraldine and her husband and daughter, Nina, Joan’s only grandchild, and Peggy, the jovial one who hides her grief behind her laughter.