Joan L. Tregaskis, 65, of Ithaca, NY, died on March 2 after a brief illness, with loved ones at her side.

Joan was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA, to Robert and Freda (Searfoss) Tregaskis and grew up in Endicott, NY. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing at West Virginia Wesleyan College and worked as a nurse for 40 years, including more than 3 decades in intensive care. She had high professional standards and was a staunch advocate for her patients and her fellow nurses.

Joan moved to Ithaca in the early 1980s, where she took delight in the area’s parks, swimming holes, and live music. She was a lifelong proponent of nourishing, homecooked, vegetarian fare, which she shared widely. As a co-owner of Finger Lakin’ Good on Aurora St. she prepared decadent cheesecakes and seasonal soups. In subsequent decades, she used her culinary skills to raise funds for Tibetan refugees settling in Ithaca and for the Finger Lakes Land Trust. After her retirement, Joan volunteered with local groups promoting access to nutritious food including Loaves and Fishes, Healthy Food For All, and No Más Lágrimas / No More Tears.

The most prized ingredients in Joan’s kitchen were harvested from her garden, where a riot of flowers, fruit, herbs, and vegetables thrived. In addition to hosting friends, family, and neighbors for picnics and fresh mint tea, Joan welcomed the public for the annual neighborhood garden tour each July and shared widely the bouquets she arranged. Joan always kept at least one room ready for guests and over the years welcomed housemates from around the world.

Throughout her adult life, Joan made time to travel—including visits to Guatemala, Japan, Kenya, Spain, and South Africa. In recent years, Joan and a cadre of fellow retired nurses visited Hawaii and took regular road trips exploring the East Coast.

Joan was a great mother and shared her love of travel with her son, David, bringing him on trips outside the country as a child. As David grew, she encouraged his adventures abroad as a teenager and adult, no matter the distance.

Joan is survived by her son, David Bohdan Tregaskis; siblings David (Christine Irving), Donna (Frank Zgola), and R. Gary (Darlene); three nieces, a nephew, and their spouses and children. She was predeceased by her parents. Donations in Joan’s memory may be directed to the Finger Lakes Land Trust ( or Loaves & Fishes ( Condolences may be mailed to PO Box 411, Ithaca, NY 14851. A celebration of life will be held in the summer.

This was not written by The Ithaca Voice. Anyone interested in submitting an obituary can email Find more in our Obituaries section.