Joanne Cina Dreeben died peacefully on February 11 2020 at Calvary Hospital, surrounded by her family. Joanne was born on March 23, 1943 in Yonkers, NY to Anne Balkash Cina and Peter Cina, and she remained a Yonkersite her entire life. After graduating from PS 27, Hawthorne Junior High, Joanne worked for the Singer Sewing Machine Company in Yonkers, first as a sewing teacher, then as a bookkeeper, and finally as an assistant manager for 15 years. Then, she worked as the office manager for Tri-State Warehouse Distributor's, an auto parts company, for 25 years until her retirement in 2011. But Joanne's avocation as an animal lover occupied at least as much of her effort and creativity as her professional career.
Joanne adopted her first ferret, Jennifer, in 1975 and that soon led to another and another and eventually "too many to count" in her one-woman ferret rescue operation. There were many times when a friend would drop by with a coffee cake to visit Joanne only to leave with a new ferret. ("I just got one in I think you'd like."). In 1980, Joanne became a volunteer docent at the Bronx Zoo, leading tours and explaining exhibits to zoo visitors young and old, a role she fulfilled enthusiastically, lovingly, and knowledgably for the ensuing 40 years. Shortly after she began at the zoo, they needed someone to help raise a few baby squirrels and she volunteered. That was her "gateway" into wildlife rehabilitation and she was soon licensed for that in New York State and, a few years later, also at the federal level. She rapidly expanded her repertoire beyond squirrels and soon became the "go-to" rehabilitator in southern Westchester for a variety of small mammals, including at least one star-nosed mole, songbirds, pigeons, and raptors such as hawks, owls, and peregrine falcons. This menagerie of ferrets and wildlife, plus her own collection of dogs, kittens, and cats, gave Joanne's home a welcoming, but slightly exotic ambiance. This carried over to her office work at Tri-State as well, where her computer monitor was usually adorned with a small wicker basket full of baby birds being kept warm while they awaited their next quarter-hourly feeding.
Joanne was also devoted to her family, who will miss her deeply. Her parents predeceased her but she is survived by her son P.O. Robert Dreeben and his wife Amada of Yonkers, her daughter Elizabeth Dreeben and her partner Chris Grieco of Yonkers, grandchildren Toni Gallagher and her husband Erik Betanzos, Samantha and Francesca Ricci, great grandchildren Dexter and Elliot Betanzos, her sister Carol Cina-King and her husband Colin King of Corvallis, Oregon, and many, many friends. All loved her for her generosity, her non-judgmental attitude, and her cranky warmth. She left us pearls of wisdom, such as "Hurry up and wait!" and "No good deed goes unpunished." Who could ever forget her pumpkin pies, her zoo parties, her Christmas Eve seven-fishes dinners and other holiday meals, which all began precisely at the designated hour (Don't be late because she wouldn't wait!). Her road trips to wildlife conferences upstate were also legendary, at least to her traveling partners – speed limits were advisory only, and no rest stops allowed.
The family will receive visitors on Friday from 3pm to 8 pm at the Sinatra Funeral Home in Yonkers. Services will be held at the chapel at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale on Saturday at 11:30 am. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Centerforwildlife.org