Joanne Grillo

A Celebration of Life – July 10, 2021

Journal entry by Jennifer Wingate — 

The Passing of Joanne Grillo happened almost 8 months ago, but we’ve never fully memorialized her due to the pandemic. Now that vaccines are available and people can more safely gather, we are having a Celebration of Life event in memory of Joanne Grillo. Please join us for an Open House:

Saturday July 10, 12:00 – 7:00.
921 Spruce St. 

Light refreshments will be provided. We will be creating a memorial space for people to walk through and experience with the help of George Peters and Melanie Walker. If you have memories or photos you would like to include, please share them with me at:

We will do our best to include as many as possible, but any not displayed the day of July 10 will be posted on her obituary website (forthcoming). For those not able to join us from afar. A video recording of the space we create will be posted there as well after the event.

We will be following any current Boulder masking protocols for gatherings to ensure safety for all attendees. We look forward to seeing or hearing from as many people as possible!


Long time Boulder resident Joanne Grillo passed away on Nov. 11, 2020.

Born on December 19, 1938 in Los Angeles, CA as Joanne Mudry, she was the oldest of three sisters (Betty and Catherine) and one brother (Joe Jr.). She grew up in San Pedro, CA with a tight kit group of friends who continued to be close into adulthood.

Joanne met Virgil Grillo at USC in their first semester of French class and they became close friends. After a trip across Europe during which Virgil followed Joanne’s tour group with his best friend on motorinos, they finally recognized their love. Joanne and Virgil were married on December 26, 1959.

After graduating from USC, they moved to Berkeley, CA, where Virgil pursued a PhD in English, while Joanne taught elementary school. They made lifelong friends there and always envisioned returning one day. There, their son Christopher was born on July 18, 1962, and their love grew. They moved to Boulder, CO in 1968, when Virgil accepted a position teaching at CU. It was here that Joanne found her love for pottery; she was a member of the Boulder Potter’s Guild for decades. Their daughter Jennifer completed their family in 1969.

Joanne and Virgil were passionate about their friendships and often hosted elaborate celebrations that were memorable and created with love. From New Year’s dance parties, to Mardi Gras celebrations involving eating pasta by hand from communal bowls, to complex group Halloween costumes for the annual Mall crawl… there was always something unexpected and wonderful to share.

Joanne and Virgil’s life-long adventurous spirit was filled with travel. Some highlights included Virgil’s sabbatical, which brought the family to Antella and Florence, and allowed for extensive exploration of Italy, Europe, and the UK. Every winter they sought sunshine, either in warmer Southern California or the beaches of Mexico.

Joanne accompanied Virgil to Washington D.C. for two years while he worked for the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. There she found inspiration in the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, and this carried over into her ceramics.

After Virgil died in 1994, Joanne filled her time in Boulder with Qi Gong, Swiss ball classes, and her ongoing love of travel. She discovered cruises as a wonderful, gentler, and delicious way to explore the world. She took many cruises with her family, especially her sister Betty and her husband (honorary sister) Verne.

Joanne was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called myelofibrosis in 2001, and yet for almost two decades she persevered with strength and grace; she lived her best life, continuing to travel the world as she loved, until her last last.

Joanne is survived by her son, Christopher Grillo (58, Santa Cruz, CA), daughter Jennifer Grillo Wingate (51, Brookings, SD) grandchildren Lucas and Landon Wingate, sisters Betty Kurisu (Canyonville, OR) and Catherine Campbell (Ajo, AZ), and many beloved nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held on July 10, 2021.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Grillo Health Information Center:


Community Food Share of Boulder/Broomfield:

Please send at least one photograph, if desired, to Feel free to add any stories, poems, etc. as a comment on this page.


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Here is a link to some of Joanne’s songs on Spotify. You are invited to add to this list.





6 thoughts on “Joanne Grillo”

  1. Beautiful tribute to your vibrant mama. I’m glad I got to meet her during my time in Boulder, I saw how she shined. I’m sending you love as you process your grief.

  2. I have loved Joanne ( We call each other Sales ) since we were kids together at 7th Street School in San Pedro. I cherish the wonderful memories of all the laughs and special times we shared.I so miss her and know she is at peace now and with the love of her life Virgil.
    RIP Sales, love you Jeri

  3. I rented the carriage house behind Joanne and Virgil’s home for 20 years, until I moved abroad in January 2008. During my infrequent trips back to Boulder I always stopped to see Joanne once or twice. In the summer that would have been poolside, as she, and Virgil, always like to do. Joanne was my long-term landlady, but so much more than that. She was a friend, and a very dear person. I had planned to visit Boulder in June 2020, but due to the pandemic had to postpone my trip. Certainly, I would have gone to see Joanne, and now I will never be able to do so. She lived long and well, but not long enough. I’ll miss seeing her terribly much the next time I’m in Boulder.

  4. Joanne was the most loyal and constant participant in my Swiss Ball exercise class of anyone, for 22+ years! If she was in town and physically able, she was there and always said she felt better afterwards. She had such a positive attitude, such a lovely smile, such a supportive and caring demeanor, such a can-do attitude…it wasn’t a complete Ball Class without her there. I’ve missed her greatly as have all the other class participants. Rest in peace, Joanne. You are forever in our thoughts and memories.

  5. Dearest Jenny,
    your tribute to your mom,
    your celebration of her life,
    and your being there for her,
    accompanying her with the octopus teacher, was just right.
    I hope you can feel full
    of the gentle love that you have given,
    as a wonderful daughter to Joanne.
    Joanne, who alway had that huge glass bowl of some magical drink fermenting in the sun outside.
    Dipping into her pool with her huge sunhats.
    I admired her pizzazz in long caftans,
    And am full of gratitude for having known Joanne,
    stayed in the carriage house.
    a dear and constant friend, and more, for my mother, Sandy.
    Love and spaciousness,

  6. Dear Jenny and family and friends of Joanne,
    I found out a few days ago about Joanne’s passing. I am still processing it. I knew Joanne briefly many years ago when I first moved to Boulder. She was just such an incredible human being– full of love, joy, fun, and adventure. I remember our chats around the pool, her wonderful conversational and culinary interests, when she was working on her skiing in Breck, her love of her children and family and friends and her utter zest for life. While I have not seen her for many years, I think about her often and loved that twinkle in her eyes!! She was simply lovely and brightened my life and those who knew her. Rest in peace, dear Joanne.

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