Joanne Wenger; marched for JFK

Joanne P. Wenger
Joanne P. Wenger
Posted: August 27, 2014

Joanne P. Wenger, 71, of Gloucester City, who marched in the inaugural parade for President John F. Kennedy on Jan. 20, 1961, in Washington, died of cancer Saturday, Aug. 23, at the ManorCare Health Services residential care facility in Washington Township.

Born in Gloucester City, Miss Wenger graduated in 1961 from Gloucester Catholic High School, where she was a member of its All Girl Drum and Bugle Corps, nephew Robert K. McGinley Jr. said.

After Kennedy was sworn into office, the Gloucester Catholic unit paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue past the reviewing stand at the White House.

A January 1961 resolution signed by Mayor Louis A. Kelly and Common Council President William J. Fritz complimented the group "as the official band for the New Jersey contingent" in the parade.

A caption for a photo of the group, published the summer before the parade, referred to the band as the Belles of St. Mary's. The caption stated that the 66-member band consisted of "a horn line of 45 members and a color guard of 10 members, 9 member percussion section," and two conductors.

The band was organized in 1949 and played at halftimes during football games, the caption stated, until 1957, when it was "organized as a marching and maneuvering field corps."

Miss Wenger never spoke to McGinley or his sister, Miss Wenger's closest surviving relatives, about the band or the parade, he said.

"We didn't know anything about it until we were going through some of her papers when she got sick," he said.

"She was a very private person," so much so that he could not say what her role was with the band.

After high school, he said, "she had two jobs her whole life" - as a secretary for the Curtis Publishing Co. in Philadelphia and as a machine operator in a lab producing eyeglass lenses for U.S. Vision in Glendora, from which she retired four years ago.

A viewing was set from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, at the McCann-Healey Funeral Home, 851 Monmouth St., Gloucester City, before an 11 a.m. funeral service there.

Donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 1851 Old Cuthbert Rd., Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034.4

Condolences may be offered to the family at

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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