February 2, 1955 - July 19, 2018
Joyce Peterson (age 63) passed away at the Penn Cove home she shared with her husband Fran Einterz on July 19, eight weeks after a diagnosis of late-stage pancreatic cancer. Joyce lived a full, vibrant and intentional life, with strong family ties and deep connections in the local community, combined with a joy of travel and love of the natural world. Joyce had a wonderful spirit. She was a great listener and friend, a fabulous and generous host, a strong woman, a wise and loving wife and mother -- simply a great person. She will be deeply missed by so many.
Joyce was born to Vincent and Marian Peterson in Omaha, Nebraska in 1955. She was raised together with two sisters and a brother. Joyce was an athletic tomboy, preferring to be outdoors when possible. Joyce inherited her building contractor father’s can-do work ethic and her mother’s genuine interest in people. Their Swedish-American church and many friends and relatives provided a strong sense of community. Every summer, the family loaded up the station wagon and drove off to all parts of the country, exploring national parks and cities. A family trip to Europe that included visits to relatives and ancestral farms in Sweden also opened the world to Joyce.
After two years at North Park College in Chicago, Joyce chose to study Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington, where she had a rich university experience and many outdoor adventures.
Shortly after graduating in 1979, Joyce bicycled through Europe with friends. She then fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining the Peace Corps. For two years, Joyce taught gardening and hygiene skills in a Rural Women’s Program in Marsabit, a fairly remote town in Northern Kenya. One of a few non-Kenyans in town, this tall blond woman who spoke fluent Swahili and got around on her red motorcycle created a special niche in the community. Joyce formed wonderful friendships with fellow Peace Corps volunteers as well as a romance and eventual marriage with Fran, who had been Joyce’s Peace Corps trainer. After Peace Corps, Joyce joined Fran, who was doing development work with CARE and USAID in Uganda and Egypt.
A job offer as an Occupational Therapist with the Oak Harbor School District brought Joyce to Whidbey Island in 1982. Joyce thrived in this rural community: buying a house, starting a garden, joining folk dance groups and a choir, forming life-long friendships. Fran got an MBA at the University of Washington and with Joyce created Service Alternatives, a social services company.
Joyce and Fran got married in 1985 and raised two sons, Isaak and Micah. When the boys were older, Joyce retired from her OT work. Fran and Joyce purchased and fixed up the Jenne Farm, preserving it from further development. They have lovingly tended the farm Joyce arranging the house bookings for family gatherings or weddings and taking care of the gardens while “Farmer Fran” handles the animals and fields.
Joyce volunteered for many years with organizations close to her heart and values, such as: the Toddler Learning Center, the League of Women Voters, Beach Watchers, Whidbey Camano Land Trust, and Small Miracles. With her strong moral compass, Joyce cared deeply about important issues, such as finding sensible solutions to protect the environment and rescue the healthcare system. She was a practicing feminist, more comfortable in muddy work boots than heels. Joyce balanced her life with activities that brought her joy: singing with the Whidbey Chorale, dances, book group, gardening, bird watching, marimba lessons, early morning reading, walks and meals with many close friends, time with her family, and for the past year, taking care of her granddaughter in Seattle most Fridays. In recent years, she loved the music and community at “Skinny Tie” jazz concerts with Fran and Brad.
Joyce was always ready to hop on a plane for an adventure. She loved the learning, new perspectives, and novel experiences of travel, often to sunny places during the dreary fall or winter. Recent trips to Cook Islands, China, Costa Rica and New Zealand pretty much checked off her travel bucket list.
A typical day at Fran and Joyce’s house was punctuated by friends dropping in to share a laugh or a meal or provide a temporary new lap for one of the various pets. The door was usually open and guests were always welcome. Joyce’s friendly/outgoing personality attracted friends everywhere she went. She had a very kind spirit and a genuine interest, concern and loving acceptance of people. Joyce loved to laugh and had a good sense of humor. In a favorite picture, riding the Ducks, her mom is blowing a kazoo and Joyce is holding her ears in jest.
Joyce’s passion for gardening led her to proclaim the dump-truck full of manure she received one year was her best birthday present ever.
Given her general health and vitality, Joyce’s terminal cancer diagnosis was shocking. She faced the end of her life with great dignity, choosing to appreciate her rich life and focus on living in the moment. Some of her last written words: Enjoy each person. Each conversation. Each meal. Each smile.
Many thanks to Dr. Lee Roof, Irene Puhr, and Dr. Jerry Sanders and the entire Whidbey Health hospice team for excellent, compassionate medical care.
Joyce is survived by her husband Fran Einterz, son Isaak (Blair) Einterz and granddaughters Holland Alice Einterz (1 year old) and recent arrival Elliott Joyce Einterz of Seattle; son Micah Einterz of Seattle; sister Joan Peterson (Corey Satten) and twin sister Jan Peterson (Mark Hammarlund) of Seattle, brother Norris (Sharon) Peterson of Midway, Utah; many nieces and nephews; the very large Einterz family; and countless friends.