Joelle Chantal Birkett

  • Born: July 21, 1949
  • Died: October 29, 2020
  • Location: Concord, Massachusetts

Concord Funeral Home

Director - Glenn D. Burlamachi, CFSP
74 Belknap St.
Concord, MA 01742
Tel. (978) 369-3388

Tribute & Message From The Family

Loving Wife, Mother and Devoted Teacher

Joëlle Chantal Birkett (née Roy), 71, of Concord, MA, passed away Thursday, October 29, 2020 at Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln, MA. She was the beloved wife of Robert Birkett and the loving mother of Claire Birkett.

Joëlle was born in Enghien-Les-Bains, France on July 21,1949. She was preceded in death by her parents Ginette and Jacques Roy, and is survived by her siblings Nicole, Catherine, and Patrick, as well as many nieces and nephews.

She met Bob, her husband of 40 years, in Bath, England. They were married at his parent's home in Needham, MA in 1980 and chose to make their home in Concord. She became an American Citizen in 1992.

Joëlle completed her studies at the Sorbonne, Paris in 1971, earned British Teacher Certification at Southampton University, and started a long career as a teacher of French language and culture. Her first teaching position was at Hartcliffe School in Bristol, England where she rose to the level of Housemistress. After moving to the United States, she continued her teaching at l'Ecole Bilingue in Cambridge, MA, The Park School, Concord Academy, Carlisle Middle School and Newton Country Day School where she taught for 15 years. When Claire was young, Joëlle volunteered at The Barn Nursery School, Sunday school and for Claire's Dance Prism ballet performances.

Joëlle filled her classrooms with laughter and joy. Students, colleagues, and parents appreciated the enthusiasm she brought to teaching. She was a wonderful storyteller and all were drawn in by her humor, charm and personality. She brought elegance and joie de vivre to everything she did and blended cultures gracefully to make everyone feel special.

Joëlle loved her life in Concord, the long walks with Bob, and visiting the local shops and farms, which reminded her of her native France. She generously shared her flair for cooking with close friends, and loved visiting her French family in Cassis, Cannes and Menton, bringing back many treasured memories.

A private memorial will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be made to:
Care Dimensions
75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102
Danvers, MA 01923

Condolence & Memory Journal

I just read about Madame Birkett's passing in the Park School Bulletin. Madame Birkett was truly an inspiration to me in the short time I knew her. I loved the language, and I'm certain that came from her!! She took a genuine interest in my learning, so much so that she tutored me over a summer to enable a double promotion for me!!!! Until I see you again, Dear Madame Birkett!!!

Posted by Mark Simmons - W. Roxbury, MA - Student   July 29, 2021

Joëlle, ma chère amie, ma chère collègue, nous avons tant partagé, tu me manques terriblement, ta joie de vivre, ta gentillesse, repose en paix...

Posted by Anne Dykiel - Acton, MA - Coworker   December 23, 2020

I took some French lessons with Joelle many years ago and they were wonderful. Later, it was always fun to see her in town and have a short conversation in French. I'm very sorry for your loss.

Posted by Elisabeth Townsend - Concord, MA - Student   November 29, 2020


So many laughs, so many wonderful memories etched in my heart forever... Adieu, fleur charmante...

Posted by Alma Barozzi    November 11, 2020

I have such fond memories of working with Joëlle at Newton. Her chuckle, the mischievous sparkle in her eye, her love for her students, and her beautiful, melodious voice. Sending heartfelt condolences to her family, of whom she spoke with reverence and deep love. Repose en paix Joëlle.

Posted by Juliette Zener - Lexington, MA - Coworker   November 11, 2020

Joelle was a wonderful, caring and loving person. I will miss my visits with her. My condolences to Bob, Claire.

Posted by Armine Roat - Wayland, MA - Acquaintance   November 09, 2020

Joelle was a model of communicative skills...conveying the essentials of the French language to students and inducing a contagious love of fun in friends. Carol Miller, Concord Academy, Nov 9, 2020

Posted by carol miller - cambridge, MA - Coworker   November 09, 2020

For many years Joëlle and Bob were ardent supporters of and extraordinary contributors in multiple ways to Dance Prism, the ballet company with which Claire performed as a young dancer. Joëlle was a long-time backstage fixture and beloved friend of many, a joyful generous spirit with a legendarilyexquisiteFrench accent and, typically, a gift of flowers or pastry or a spontaneous donation to the company every time she came through our doors. One could hear before she entered a cascading clear laugh that was almost a song. I have not seen her in many years, but I have thought of her often and will deeply regret the fact that I will not see her again. Fond sympathy to Bob and Claire from me and from all in our organization who knew and valued her.
Mary Demaso, Artistic Director, Dance Prism

Posted by Mary Demaso - Concord, MA   November 09, 2020

Ma belle. Ma chère. Mon amie.

Posted by Sara Bellini - Sudbury, MA - Family Friend   November 08, 2020

I am so sorry to hear about the families loss of one of their loved one.May the families hearts ♥ be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times the family shared together with the dear loved one lost in death.As the families cherished a wonderful life that was well lived and loved by families and friends.My deepest sympathy and condolences goes out to the families during this difficult time of deep sorrow and pain.

Posted by A friend   November 06, 2020

Having met Joelle back when she first came over to live with Bob I can only say she was a dream come true for everyone in her sphere. So saddened to hear of her passing and hope it was peaceful, RM

Posted by Richard Morris - Englewood, NJ - Friend   November 05, 2020

Joëlle was a very kind and genuine person who brought so much joy and beauty to everyone around her.
C'était une amie très chère. Elle me manque beaucoup. En sa mémoire, je cultiverai à jamais dans mon esprit les jolies fleurs du jardin de Joëlle.

Posted by Chantal Sweeney - Westwood, MA - friend   November 04, 2020

The memory I will always have of Joelle is of her almost constant smile, her laugh, her love of fun and her zest for life. She was also one of the most warm hearted and generous people I have ever known. And of course with Bob, they were a very special couple, which was obvious from the very start. I can remember a 4th of July party in Bristol UK when we Europeans experienced peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first time; made so Bob would feel at home. I also remember a somewhat hilarious evening when we visited Concord a few years ago and Joelle had decided to cook lobster. But all my memories of time with Joelle are of fun and laughter. Our thoughts are with you Bob and Claire, and I am truly sorry that world circumstances prevent us from being there in the States with you.
Chris Rust, England

Posted by Chris Rust - Oxford - Friend   November 04, 2020

Tu me manques, Maman <3>

Posted by Claire Birkett - Concord, MA - Daughter   November 03, 2020

Joelle was such a beautiful person both inside and out. Always smiling and making jokes. So genuine and a very caring and thoughtful person. A true friend. I will miss her terribly.

Posted by Terri Panico - Friend   November 03, 2020

Joëlle as her name implies was pure joy, full of love and light. She inspired everyone that met her with boundless good will and generosity. A gifted raconteur she would lift spirits, bring laughter and delight friends with her stories of family and France. A dedicated ecologist she insisted her food and drinks met exacting requirements. She strived for perfection in all she did.

Posted by Luis Luis - Sudbury, MA - Friend   November 03, 2020

Rest In Peace dear Joëlle. We have special memories of your wonderful joie de vivre, your sense of humor, your friendship......You will be missed by so many. We extend our sincere sympathy to Bob and Claire. Love, Carol and Phil

Posted by Carol and Phil Messina - Concord, MA - Friend   November 03, 2020

Joelle was the friend who would always inspire and uplift especially by her infectious laugh and great joie de vivre in all she did. She gave exquisite dinners for the friends who were fortunate enough to come together for her, called "les Mousquetaires. " We were truly all for one and one for all. Her love for us and her spirit will be forever present. She knew how to be a friend: she was loyal, generous to a fault and never judged. In addition, she brought so much beauty to us Americans from her belle France. "Joelle, je t'aime beaucoup et tu me manques. " You are the essence of inner and outer beauty. I will carry you forever in my heart.

Posted by Jeanne Moore - Concord, MA - Family   November 03, 2020

La mémoire de Joëlle est gravée dans mon coeur. Je la vois toujours avec un bouquet de fleurs à la main, un sourire radieux, et tant d'amour et de joie dans les yeux. Je prie pour toi, pour Bob, et pour Claire.

Posted by Patrick Hirschler-Marchand - Concord, MA - Family Friend   November 03, 2020

Madame Birkett was an amazing friend, role model, and teacher. She came into class everyday with the biggest smile and welcoming spirit. She cared for us, looked out for us, made us laugh when we were sad, and taught us so much about French and France's culture. We will always appreciate how much she prioritized our well-beings by checking in on us during stressful times and making us tea when we didn't feel well. Madame Birkett's confidence and charisma inspires us as we continue our education in college and we will forever hold her in our hearts. Rest In Peace. Nous vous aimons<3>

Maddie H, Lexi C, Chloe W, Ginger D, Madeline F, Cat M, Becky A, Emily C, Margaux D, Jamie P

Posted by Class of 2019 - Newton, MA - Student   November 03, 2020

Goodbye to a dear friend and valued colleague. We will miss you: your joyous spirit, your generosity, and the many evenings sharing good food and laughter. Julie

Posted by Juliefriend Hirschler - Concord, MA   November 02, 2020

Posted by Bob Birkett - Concord, MA - Spouse   November 02, 2020

Joelle was the most loving and generous sister-in-law and a devoted, enthusiastic aunt to her many nieces and nephews. I will always remember her laughing and dancing, her amazing French cuisine, her flair for spreading beauty all around her. A part of our family for over 40 years, she will be deeply missed by us all. We love you so much, Joelle. You are dancing with the angels.

Posted by Barbara Rowe - Fairfield, CT - Family   November 02, 2020

Joelle was one of the most positive and vibrant people I've ever known. She was the activity queen before pinterest and always made an effort to make sure that every visit to her house was fun and memorable. Her absence will be greatly felt and she will be incredibly missed. Much love and support to you Bob and Claire! xoxo Stephanie Sweeney

Posted by Stephanie Sweeney - Braintree, MA - Family Friend   November 02, 2020

I am so sorry to hear the news of Joelle's passing. I worked with Joelle at Newton Country Day for 15 years. We spent a lot of time talking about our families, and her love for Bob and Claire was always part of the conversation. She brought her joy and love of laughter to everything she did. I can still hear her laughing, and I will hear it whenever I think of her, Rest in Peace, my friend.

Posted by Janet Bonner - Brighton, MA - Friend   November 02, 2020

Joelle was a well-loved member of the Newton Country Day School faculty. Her joie de vivre, and capacity for friendship endeared her to her colleagues and students. Her retirement was loss. All of us who worked with Joelle will remember her with affection.
Kathleen Scully Hodges


Posted by Kathleen Hodges - Newton, MA - Coworker   November 02, 2020

Joelle was so much fun and so full of life. She was a wonderful cook and hostess and we will miss her. Love and healing thoughts to Bob and Claire. Love, Phil and Courtnay.

Posted by Courtnay Malcolm - Cambridge, MA - Friend   November 02, 2020

She was a very special person...always full of life...she will be missed.

Posted by Andrea Lazure - Peabody, MA - friend   November 02, 2020

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Tu me manques, Maman <3

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