Joan Novelli
Joan Novelli

Obituary of Joan A. Novelli


Joan Audrey Sola Novelli

80 Year Resident of Santa Cruz 


Joan Novelli, a widely known and loved Westside Santa Cruz legend, passed away on December 28, 2023 surrounded by her children at the age of 89.


Born on May 21, 1934 in San Francisco, Joan was the second of eight children born to David & Josephine Sola. In 1944, the family moved to Bonny Doon. While working for various neighbors, Joan became involved with 4H and attended competitions around northern California. She attended Mission Hill Junior High and Santa Cruz High, graduating in 1952.


Following high school she attended UC Davis before returning to start a family with soon-to-be husband and Korean war veteran, Albert Joseph “Abbie” Novelli. They were married on October 6, 1957.


Her first daughter, Mary Anne, passed away in 1958. After her daughters Susan & Barbara were born, she worked at a variety of jobs including Wrigley’s Gum and Birds Eye before beginning a gardening career with Abbie that continued throughout the 1970’s and 80’s.


In 1991, she appeared on the California lottery’s TV show “The Big Spin” which resulted in a sizable win. When she retired from gardening in the early 90’s, she began providing grocery shopping services around town for multiple residents who were unable to do so on their own as well as working to rescue, foster, & place abandoned cats.


In the late 90’s, she joined her sister Barbara’s highly successful franchise on the Boardwalk, Hodgies, and became a master sandwich maker. She continued until the early 2010’s before finally calling it a day and enjoying the simple life.


Joan was an avid Jeopardy & Wheel Of Fortune fan. She loved country music and attended numerous concerts over the years that included meeting one of her favorites, Carrie Underwood. She was also a basketball & football fan (Warriors & 49ers) and got to meet legendary 49er Jerry Rice while he was in town for a book signing.


Joan is preceded in death by her parents, David & Josephine Sola, her husband Albert Joseph Novelli, her sisters Barbara Ann Wetzel, Anna Marie Sola, & Marian California Sola, her daughter Mary Anne Novelli, and her brother Carlo Anthony Sola. She is survived by her daughters Susan & Barbara and her son Randy, her brothers Richard (Boise, ID), David (Santa Maria, CA), and John (Fallon, NV), as well as several nieces and nephews.


A private interment is planned.


In lieu of flowers the family asks that, in honor of their beloved mother, donations be made to Santa Cruz SPCA or Meals On Wheels of Santa Cruz.





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