Joan Bernardi, a co-founder of Sandia Distributors, died Jan. 8 in Green Valley, Ariz. She was 81.
Bernardi and her late husband Smoky Durniat married in 1960. They formed and operated the watermelon packer and shipper in Nogales, Ariz.
She retired from the produce business in 1989. A year later she opened Galleria Bernardi in Tubac, Ariz., with Al Bernardi, whom she married in 1985. The business offered fine art and Christmas collectibles, according to a news release. The couple retired in 1995.
A childhood polio survivor, Bernardi regained use of her leg muscles and went on to serve in the Salvation Army in Las Vegas and Hawaii, then as administrative assistant to the mayor of Phoenix, before starting Sandia.
She is survived by her husband, Al Bernardi, and by seven stepchildren among other family.
A memorial is scheduled for Jan. 19 at La Posada in Green Valley from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations in Bernardi’s name can be made to the Center for Spiritual Living in Green Valley.