DENVER, Colo. — Never disavowing her given name Joquetta, Joy was born to Margaret “Mildred” and Wilhelm “Swede” Fischer in Great Bend. She spent her early years climbing on trees, skinning her knees and dressing her cats in doll clothes on her parents’ farm south of town. After moving into Great Bend in 1951, Joy traded a pastoral life for a more suburban one that included spending summers as a teenaged life guard chastising cannonballers and ducking acned adolescent advances at the municipal pool.
She attended Great Bend High School, graduating in 1958. Shortly thereafter, accompanied by her longtime classmate and closest friend Magdalena “Maggie” Hott, she left flyover country to attend Denver’s Colorado Women’s College (CWC). There her studies took her from ingénue to woman of the world while she focused on a major in fine arts and — being rightfully deemed comely by any who knew her — was nominated as a candidate for 1960 CWC Beauty Queen.
Joy continued her fine arts and interior design studies while deflecting the onslaught of free-spirited suitors at least one of whom, while in a fog of over-imbibed bravado, tried to gain her favor with wit but instead made himself the fool by extinguishing a lit cigarette in her highball. Undissuaded by such off-putting advances and other equally inane attempts to turn her head, Joy was not distracted, instead completing her studies and graduating from CWC in 1961.
In the years that followed, Joy adopted Denver as her new home. She pursued a career with a number of interior design firms until, wishing to expand her knowledge and expertise, she went to Italy on a sabbatical. After returning, she chose to start her own independent interior design firm, JFDesignsWest, which she was in the process of growing when a family member became ill. Putting the business plans aside, she chose instead to serve as caregiver while working in administration for various energy research firms where she continued until retiring in 2004 to her life and love of horticulture, painting and collecting art at her home in West Littleton while fulfilling her desire to travel to both coasts and motor through Europe, including once chartering a canal boat and conscripting a crew of two to privately cruise Dutch waterways.
Joy was fortunate and felt honored to have a circle of mutually admiring and devoted friends that she had drawn to her over the years, and an adoring partner in her later life who loved and treasured her warm embrace, angelic laugh, and perfect singing pitch. Grousing good-humoredly, he cheerfully indulged her and lugged box after box of adornments up and down stairs to feed her ritual tradition of painstakingly decorating their world for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, each season or any other excuse right up until idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) began to take her stamina.
In her last few years, even as the incurable IPF inexorably consumed her lungs and robbed her more and more of life-giving oxygen, she rarely complained and never fell into despair, taking strength instead from the spiritualism that she had found in her early years and had always sustained her. The disease finally ran its course, reaching an inevitable end as she slipped quietly into that other realm that she believed so deeply was waiting for her.
Predeceased by parents and her brother Jack, Joy is survived only by distant cousins, a few remaining friends and a partner who grieves so terribly, but not enough to dishonor her memory by turning back to cigarettes and highballs.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Joy may wish to donate to Project Angel Heart, Denver Hospice or any one of the numerous and deserving animal rescue services in her name.
The Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Aug. 30, 2020