Joan Gillespie was born on September 10, 1931 to Frances Jane Gillespie and Leo Gillespie in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She had one younger brother, Richard, born in 1936. On May 28, 1955, she married Angelo Edward Bove, a first generation Italian. They met on a company ski trip at the bank they both worked at. Together they had 7 children: Donna, John, Lisa, Joann, Angela, Christopher, and Angelo Edward. Joan remained in the Philadelphia area until her death in 1994. A devout Irish Catholic, Joan was known for her sewing. She made her own wedding dress and sewed clothes for all 7 of her children.