Joan Beregi is a strong woman who gathers her strength from battling a seizure condition her entire adult life.
There were six Murray children in the family. Joan was born in Philadelphia; the family moved to Delaware County when she was in grade school. Her father was security director for the Franklin Mint, and her mother was busy running the household.
Joan was a typical teenager, into cheerleading and athletics. In her late teens, she developed the seizures that took her in a direction she never comprehended. She started training as a nursing assistant at Lankenau Hospital, with a focus on being a medical doctor. Her interest in medicine guided her and aided the doctors in the many different diagnoses. It has been estimated that she has had over 5,000 seizures in her lifetime.
It only been recently that the seizures have been linked to a hormonal unbalance.
During a chance meeting at a bus stop, on the way to his car, John Beregi, who was an ER nurse at Crozer Medical Center, noticed that Joan was slightly disoriented waiting for a bus. He recognized her, as she had been just treated at the center’s ER.
John immediately became her caregiver, saving her life at least three times. Their bond developed into a deep friendship and then marriage. They married in 1992, finally settling in Phoenixville.
As she fought her own battles, she became her mother-in-law’s caregiver for 20 years.
She does not drive; she walks most places. Their current rescue dog is Elroy, as Portuguese Water & Crocker mix. He accompanies Joan on many of her walks.
John has retired from Crozer after 44 years on the job as a RN-CEN. He keeps busy as a ham radio enthusiast. Both Joan and John enjoy camping whenever they can get away.
John’s family and my family are not related by blood but by friendship. His mother and my mother were friends, being born several weeks apart into the Hungarian community of the town. She was in my parent’s wedding. She was my Krestzmama (godmother). I was in her wedding.
Joan believes in helping people and has focused her talents on fundraising for many community groups in Phoenixville. She was president for the last four years of her nine years on the board of directors of the Phoenixville Art Center. She helped develop and/or strengthen the Reservoir Dog Park, the Christmas parades, the holiday house tours, the Phoenixville Area Business Association (PABA), the Green Earth Festival and many other offshoot events in the area.
JOAN’S OVERNIGHT CHEESE CAKE
¼ cups graham cracker or cookie crumbs
2 lbs. cream cheese — room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup brandy (flavored if preferred)
5 large eggs
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan or a 2-quart soufflé dish. Dust pan with the cracker or cookie crumbs; set aside. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in vanilla extract, brandy and eggs. Blend well. Pour batter into prepared pan, and place in 200-degree oven overnight at lease for six to eight hours. The next morning, the cake will be done, and the top will just have colored. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
The slower it bakes, the creamier it gets. Plus baked at a low temperature, the surface is less likely to crack.
Let Bette Banjack hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.