Two pressing questions remain unanswered in the wake of Joan’s abrupt departure from the Bachelor Mansion: Why did she leave The Golden Bachelor, and what happened in her life after that? The truth is far more dramatic than what television viewers saw when Joan left The Golden Bachelor, as it turns out.
For its first season, The Golden Bachelor, a creative spin-off of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette that targets single people 60 and older, had a cast of 22 contestants. They included Joan Vassos. Back in 2020, ABC’s unscripted executive, Rob Mill, emphasized the poignant nature of the casting interviews when talking about the network’s inspiration for producing The Golden Bachelor. He emphasized the distinctive perspectives on life these people brought to the Bachelor franchise, including bringing up children, dealing with loss, and finding love later in life.
The 71-year-old Indiana restaurant owner Gerry Turner was introduced as the Season 1 Golden Bachelor on Good Morning America in July 2023. Two daughters and two granddaughters were the result of his 1974 marriage to Toni, his high school sweetheart, and it had been a defining chapter in his life. Unbelievably, Toni died in 2017, just six weeks after retiring.
Gerry spoke fondly of his late wife and admitted that he used a picture of her on his dresser to ask for her approval every day. He thought Toni would be “rooting” for him as he started The Golden Bachelor journey because they had always encouraged one another to pursue happiness even after breaking up.
Joan’s Departure from The Golden Bachelor: The Real Story
In the third episode of the series, Joan left. After reading a distressing text message from a relative about her daughter’s recent pregnancy, she made the difficult decision. Joan put her unwavering devotion to her family above all else, believing they needed her presence during these difficult times. She said, “My family will always come first. Once you become a mom, you’re always a mom, even when your kids are older. Nothing is more important,” in a confessional interview.
Gerry was saddened by her departure, but he completely understood Joan’s decision because their moral standards were in harmony. He explained, “I was thrilled we had a conversation like we did, but there’s a moral compass that we both share. And sometimes, doing the right thing is the most challenging.”
In a subsequent confessional interview, Joan talked about the event and praised Gerry for his friendliness. She thanked The Golden Bachelor for starting her on the journey, reflecting on how growing older can sometimes make people feel invisible. The importance of her family’s needs and her desire to be there for the entire journey were stressed as she informed her fellow cast members of her departure.
They had become closer after their One-on-One date when Gerry was moved by Joan’s vulnerability and gave her a rose. After winning a Group Date talent competition with the touching poem “I Just Hope I Don’t Vomit on Your Shoes,” Joan was eliminated after her first One-on-One date with Gerry.
Joan thanked the viewers for their support regarding her family in an Instagram Story she posted after leaving The Golden Bachelor. She emphasized the honor of being a mother and grandmother while recognizing that finding love doesn’t always happen at the ideal time. Joan expressed confidence in the future of her family and expressed hope for a second chance at love.