Joy Louise Brinkman Abbett Matusky Goldstein passed away Saturday June 19 at around 12:05 pm. Her son Fred was at her side and she was surrounded by most of the weekend staff at Vashon Community Care, and her hospice caretakers.
Joy was born in San Jose, California on May 26th, 1935. She grew up in a military family and over the years her spirit led her to Quakerism. Her passion for activism came from her mother, a kindergarten teacher whose students were racially and ethnically mixed. In 1942, in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. Government sent her Japanese students to concentration camps. Joy’s mother was furious. She tried to take the rest of the class to bid farewell, but the military authority forbade it. Joy, then 7 years old, remembered the event as her first lesson in standing up for oneself. Standing up for herself and for the less powerful became a lifetime practice and passion.
In high school she gathered several friends and approached the management of the local department store to set up a playroom for the children of shoppers at Christmas.
She recruited service clubs, her boyfriend and family for a used clothing drive to help people in Holland who had lost everything in the flood of 1953.
In the 60’s she and a friend established pottery classes for kids in a public housing project in Chester, Pennsylvania, recruiting support from the local African American community, faculty at Swarthmore College and local Quakers. This project was eventually taken over by the Chester housing authority.
In Bremerton and on Vashon, Joy made a living as a children’s physical therapist, where she delighted in her clients’ courage and good humor. She invented “The Gravity Lady” as the character movement-impaired children needed to deal with. Later in life, as her own physical prowess diminished, the “Gravity Lady” was her constant companion.
Urged on by her son Fred after he had suffered a near fatal car accident, she was one of the initial organizers of the Vashon Friends Worship Group (Quakers). While her home Quaker Meeting was Eastside Friends around Bellevue, Joy worshipped with her Vashon group for over 30 years.
She helped form Vashon Household, the non-profit organization which has developed over a hundred units of low income housing on Vashon. The first project, JG Commons behind the library, is named for her; “J” is for Joy and “G” is for Grace, Grace Crecilius. And it was Joy who convinced the Vashon post office to provide those well-used recycle bins for paper next to the post office boxes. For years she and Women in Black held vigils in downtown Vashon. You may have seen her at the Bank Road/Vashon Highway intersection calling attention to many grave injustices.
Another of her passions was reducing the danger of nuclear war and this took her often to Bangor Submarine base with the group Ground Zero. So often was she arrested there for civil disobedience that she provided the sheriff with a small step stool she could use to climb into the paddy wagon. The sheriff always brought it to the Ground Zero protests.
When she wasn’t busy changing the world through activism, she created beautiful pots and poetry that speaks to the soul.
She is survived by her sons, Mike and Fred Matusky and their wives Jody Scott Matusky and Cynthia Chalmers Matusky, her grandchildren Amber Matusky, Marcus Matusky and McKenzie Bomber and her great grandchildren Natalia and Oscar Matusky. A service on July 25th will be held from 2-5pm at the red barn at the AYH Ranch. All are welcome to come say goodbye to her and celebrate her amazing life.