Joyce Peterson, age 63, passed away peacefully at home 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, and a wise and loving wife and mother. She will be deeply missed by so many.
Joyce was born to Vincent and Marian Peterson in Omaha, Neb. in 1955. She chose to study occupational therapy at the University of Washington, where she had a rich university experience and many outdoor adventures.
After graduating in 1979, Joyce fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining the Peace Corps, where she worked in a Rural Women’s Program in Marsabit 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 and eventually married Fran Einterz, whom she met in Africa. After Peace Corps, Joyce joined Fran doing development work 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 and Fran also started Service Alternatives, a company designed to address a variety of community human service needs.
Together, they raised two sons, Isaak and Micah. When the boys were older, Joyce retired and the family purchased the Jenne Farm in Coupeville, preserving it from further development.
Joyce volunteered for many years with community organizations close to her heart and values such as the Toddler Learning Center, Small Miracles, the League of Women Voters, WSU Beach Watchers and the Whidbey-Camano Land Trust.
With her strong moral compass, Joyce cared deeply about important issues, such as finding sensible solutions to protect the environment and rescue the health care 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, dancing, book group, gardening, bird watching, marimba lessons, and walks and meals with many close friends and family. She loved the music and community anywhere Fran and Brad Thomas played as “Skinny Tie Jazz.”
For the past year she took care of her granddaughter in Seattle most Fridays.
Joyce was always ready to hop on a plane for an adventure. Recent trips to the Cook Islands, China, Costa Rica and New Zealand pretty much checked off her travel bucket list.
Given her general health and vitality, Joyce’s terminal cancer diagnosis was a shock to all who knew her. 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 WhidbeyHealth hospice team for excellent, compassionate medical care.
Joyce is survived by her husband, Fran Einterz; son, Isaak (Blair) Einterz, and granddaughters, Holland Alice Einterz, 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; countless friends.