Joan Dashwood Kontny, 70, passed away on 7 December 2013, after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis. She is survived by her husband Vince; daughter Natascha of Boston with husband Jan Gundersen and children Kai, Seina and Tucker; son Michael of Colorado; and daughter Amber of Denver with husband Adam Cornell and children Landon, Emery and Macey.
Joan was born a proud Aussie in Melbourne and raised with five siblings. She was an exceptional student and athlete, attending Catholic schools.
After Joan finished her formal schooling, she joined the largest insurance company in Australia and rapidly rose through the secretarial ranks to become a senior executive’s personal secretary. Not satisfied and wanting to spread her wings, Joan joined the most glamorous profession in Australia—she became an air hostess for the domestic airline.
After completing the adventurous phase of her life, Joan looked to marriage and fulfilling her great ambition of raising a family. With Vince’s career in international engineering and construction, Joan had ample opportunity to capitalize on her charm and beauty while entertaining clients from around the world. Vince retired as president of Fluor Corporation in 1994, at the time the largest engineering and construction company in the world. Joan was Vince’s “secret weapon,” a powerful force always in his corner.
Supporting her husband notwithstanding, Joan’s children were her everything. From her adult children’s perspective, there has never been a more loving mother, or a mother more loved by her children. They write, “Mum (as they say in Australia) showed us the true meaning of unconditional love—limitless and unwavering in its strength. Mum was kind, compassionate and generous. She was understanding, forgiving and respectful. These were not traits she reserved for just family.”
“Mum was proud of us. Our manners and appearance, when commendable, were due to her. Mum was fun and silly, too. We laughed a lot together; she taught us to enjoy every day. We have been greatly blessed to have her as our mum, and can only hope we can be half as wonderful to our own children.”
Before Vince’s retirement, he and Joan purchased two small historic ranches in the beautiful San Juan mountains in Southwest Colorado. The Last Dollar Ranch and Centennial Ranch were fully restored then protected in perpetuity by donated conservation easements, which will ensure their use as open space, wildlife habitat and cattle production for future generations.
Joan and Vince moved to Centennial Ranch in 2003 to live in the beautifully constructed Dashwood House. Joan was an inspiration to many, and a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Her family members cherish their memories of life together.
With many friends and family members in attendance, Joan’s life was celebrated 12 December 2013, at St. Daniel the Prophet Church in Ouray, Colorado, and she was laid to her eternal rest at the Dallas Park Cemetery near Ridgway, Colorado. Arrangements were under the care of Crippin Funeral Home & Crematory, Montrose, Co.