The world is a smaller place today as we share the death of Joy Rodgers. Joy is on to the next phase of her adventure and we are confident that the ‘great beyond’ is offering her the wide-open arms she so deserves. Words inadequately express the 94 years of Esme Joyes (Joy) Rodgers, nee Whitaker, but the attempt underscores her life with one main act, giving – to her family and friends, to her nursing, volunteering, and church, and to anyone lucky enough to be in her company. Every part of Joy’s rich life was shared with Ross, her husband/best friend/loving partner for over 70 years who will now need everyone’s kindness to help him re-imagine life without her. Their love story has inspired all of us to want to be better partners, better parents, better people.
The family members blessed with the inspiration of Joy/Mom/Nanny include son David (Jane) and children Jamie and Jenny (Rustin); son Dan (Cathy) and children Amy (Greg), Lucas, Sarah (Scot); daughter Becca (Judy) and children Kyle Thornley (Katie), Todd Thornley (Satsuki), Joel (Robyn) and Carey (Bernadette); son Mark (Carol) and children Carley (Brian), Dan (Laura) and Derek; son Jay (Cindy) and children Josh, Jeremy (Nancy) and Greg (Laura). A much-loved GiGi to Emmett, Maddy, Emma, Cole, Sophia, Sam, Luc, Jack, Huck, Jinta, Jase, Nash, Wren, Harlo, Calvin, Cece, Jackson, and Mason all of whom surely cherish one of GiGi’s knitted blankets or sweaters. Joy was pre-deceased by brother Van Whitaker (Barb) of Calgary and now lovingly remembered by his children Wendy, Mike, Peter, and Rob. Joy will also be missed by sisters-in-law Susan Rodgers and Sheila Beaver (Ken) and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
As a Wellesley Hospital grad, Joy nursed at RVH in Barrie, continuing on as a volunteer, just recently stepping aside after 45 years and receiving a provincial volunteerism award. Even with her many commitments, there was always time for skiing, sailing, bridge club, concerts, square dancing, gourmet food club, travel, and gracious entertaining wherever they were, but especially remembered by many at the log house in Shanty Bay. Joy was the ultimate good sport whether welcoming orphaned raccoon pups or smiling graciously at a Model T Mother’s Day gift. Through it all, Joy’s faith and church community held quiet but steadfast meaning (Collier Street United in Barrie and St. Thomas Anglican in Shanty Bay).
We assume that anyone who knew Joy will nod their heads in assent when we describe her as the most accurately-named person ever. She spread joy in so many wonderful ways – delivering soup when most needed or cookies to a new neighbour, asking all the right questions, remembering every important date, offering her trademark cheery voice at the end of the line, and knowing when not to offer advice. Joy’s humble belief in goodness and generousity was evident in every part of her life. As a close friend said, if we could create a Joy vaccine, the world would be a better place.
She will be admiringly remembered for her fashionable put-togetherness, her note-writing, her Friday martinis, and her unswaying adoration, loyalty and respect for Ross. It brings us comfort that Mom believed she will now be happily reuniting with her previously departed cherished friends and family.
We offer thanks to the staff at Whispering Pines Retirement Centre for their compassionate care, to Dr. Pauk and his staff for his belief and commitment to good health regardless of age, to the staff at RVH trying to maintain humane care under challenging conditions, the Palliative Care Team, and the incredible staff and ‘behind the scenes’ people contributing to the heaven on earth that is Hospice Simcoe.
Given current circumstances, there will not be a celebration of life at this time. Joy will be thrilled to think that her death might inspire some charitable giving so in lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to Hospice Simcoe or to a charity of your choice.
We know that Joy/Mom/Nanny/GiGi would extend a wish for us all “that morn shall tearless be”. Please find comfort as you listen to this choral message while reflecting on “Joy “in your life.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joy (Whitaker) Rodgers, please visit our floral store.
336 Penetanguishene Rd. R.R. #1 Barrie, ON L4M 7C2, AB