December 15, 1936-January 24, 2018
Joy Lee Cooper-VanAuken passed away January 24, 2018 after a fifteen-year battle with cancer. She had just turned 81 in December.
Joy was the daughter of Orville and Elsie Cooper of Watsonville, CA. She grew up in Watsonville, graduated salutatorian of Watsonville High class of 1954 and was an accomplished violinist.
She married Bob Hestand while attending U.C. Riverside, and after graduating, taught in the Riverside area for three years. They returned to her hometown, both teachers now. In the early seventies Joy became part of a special program at U.C. Santa Cruz. She and Bob divorced, and she went on to spend about 20 years on the staff of the Education Department, teaching and mentoring student teachers. She married Bill Thomas in the mid-seventies; it ended in divorce in 1977. While working, Joy received her Masters Degree from San Jose State and pursued a doctorate at the University of San Francisco.
Joy married Dick VanAuken in 1983. She retired from U.C. Santa Cruz in 1992 and returned to public schools, becoming the reading specialist in the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District. She retired again in 1998. Over the next 20 years Joy and Dick spent part of almost every year on the road in their motorhome, accompanied by Thurber or Remedy, two of the five Airedales they shared life with.
For many years Joy was a serious backpacker in her beloved Sierras, until a very serious back surgery curtailed what she could do. She also enjoyed sailing and skiing and racquetball.
Joy was stylish and reserved, yet there was a tomboy quality and a steeled determination in her as well. As a young girl, for instance, she spent a lot of weekends and summer vacation time with her grandparents out at Elkhorn Slough. While there she would ride all over on an ornery little pony that would try to buck her off, or try to dismount her by rubbing against a tree or running under a low branch. Joy always got back on. Joy was someone you confided in easily and confidently. She laughed easily and had a bright, pragmatic view of life. She will be greatly missed.
Joy is survived by her husband, Dick Van Auken and Morgan, their nine-month-old Airedale; Dick’s siblings and their families; and four cousins, Bill Cooper of Riverside, CA, Rocky Hudson of the Palm Springs area, Bill Kelly of Bay Point, CA, and Bob Kelly and his family in Idaho. At her request, there will be no services. Mehl’s Colonial Chapel has been entrusted with the arrangements.