Joann Koster, Insurance Executive
Linda "Joann" Koster, beloved leader, mentor and friend died Sunday morning, June 30, 2019 with her wife Laura by her side. In February, she celebrated her 76th birthday at Sunrise Assisted Living Westfield, with a party of friends old and new, the loving staff of Sunrise and her devoted private aids from Right at Home, Chatham, NJ.
Known as "Joann", she had a zest for life and boundless ambition from an early age. Born in Beloit, Kansas in 1943 to Margaret Ruth Gillmore and Adam LeRoy Rose, Joann grew up on the Rose family farm where she honed the work ethic that would be her trademark and key to success.
Shortly after high school graduation Joann embarked on a prolific career in the insurance industry which proved fruitful for her and those whom she mentored along the way. Joann's career took her to the big cities of Chicago and New York, along with several worldwide destinations. From Chicago she was recruited by American Reinsurance and relocated to New York City where she further shared her leadership skills and served on the boards of a number of professional women's insurance organizations. Joann moved to Reliance National, and finally to American International Group (AIG) where she continued to rise through the ranks, reaching the pinnacle of her career as President of AIG's Specialty Workers' Compensation division.
It was always a party with Joann as the hostess, both personally and professionally! She entertained clients almost exclusively at Sparks Steakhouse on East 46th Street in New York City for many years, and thoroughly enjoyed her friendship with owners Pat (deceased) and Mike Cetta. Those who joined Joann know that her chardonnay of choice was always ready at the bar as she stepped through the door! Joann had high expectations of herself and those who worked with her; she demanded excellence, and guided those in whom she saw potential, with a gentle yet firm presence tempered by her innately friendly nature. With Joann's mentorship and endorsement, careers were made.
Following retirement at age 69, Joann packed her bags and drove her 2012 "Crystal Red" Corvette down to her beloved St. Augustine Florida where she lived on the intracoastal waterfront across from the famous lighthouse. There, she entertained countless friends, told stories and called bingo for the Sisters of St. Joseph, presided over her condo community and found her place in the fellowship of the St. Augustine Yacht Club. As the desire to mentor people remained with Joann through retirement, she addressed a group of future women business leaders at a Flagler College gathering, encouraging them to accept every opportunity to excel and exceed their professional potential.
Joann is survived by her wife, best friend, and in later years - advocate and caretaker - Laura A. Swicker Barber and Laura's daughter Sydney Chase, both of Westfield, NJ. In addition, Joann leaves behind her dear colleague Anthony "Tony" Lyons of New York City, with whom she shared a close personal and professional friendship. Preceded in death by her close friend Karen LaFleur, Joann will be missed by friends whom she considered family: Peter and Janet Fitterer of Roselle, NJ, Bruce and Patricia LaFleur of Brick, NJ, Robert, Natalie, Kara and Robert, Jr. LaFleur, of Stuart, Florida and Susan LaFleur of Port St. Lucie, Florida. Joann leaves extended family in Kansas where her father's cousin and local minister, Pastor Rodney "Rod" Dean Rose, conducted a graveside service at the Rose family cemetery plot in Ionia, Kansas. A celebration of Joann's life will take place in New York later this year. Arrangements by Gray Funeral Directors, Westfield, NJ, and Roberts Family Funeral Home, Beloit, KS.
In Joann's honor and memory, please consider a donation to the USO: USO.org or a charity of your choice.