It is with a very heavy heart that I write to tell the community that Joy WIlkins died Monday July 29, 2019.
Most of the members of Congregation will not have known Joy, but anyone who has had a loved one buried in our cemetery or have come to visit the cemetery will have likely met Joy. She was the partner of our caretaker, Geoffrey Perkins, and like Geoff, carried a deep and abiding love for the cemetery, its history, its beauty, and the community it serves.
Geoff and Joy were a remarkable couple who derived great meaning from their work in the cemetery (and Joy’s work was almost entirely done as a volunteer), but who also went beyond simply being employed by the Congregation to making the cemetery and its history a major aspect of their lives. Taking photos of the owls in the cemetery brought a lot of joy to Joy, and her nature photos were beautiful. Joy was also a caregiver, having provided compassionate care as a VIHA health aide. Her loving support of Gidi Nahshon (z”l) was inspiring and appreciated.
The cancer that took Joy’s life at only 49 years of age was not her first experience with that disease. As recently as January 2018, she had a major tumor removed from her brain and seemingly bounced back from that with all the joy that Joy truly embodied.
When the cancer returned this spring, she remained hopeful that new therapies would help her beat it. She and Geoff continued to work hard in the cemetery, working together until it became clear that the treatments were not working. After a short stay in the hospital, Joy went into hospice late last week.
Rarely does someone personify their name in the way Joy did. All of us involved with the cemetery committee will miss Joy tremendously, and we all offer our sympathies to Geoffrey.
May Joy’s memory be for a blessing,
With respect from the Congregation Emanu-El Cemetery Committee, Ed Fitch, Elisheva Gray, Graham Dragushan, Mike Goldstein and Richard Kool.