At Joyce Krause’s funeral last month, her granddaughter gave a eulogy that let Krause tell a lot of her own story.
Cori Crowley mostly quoted things her Nan had written in a “grandmother’s memory book” that Crowley had asked Krause to fill out years before.
But Crowley closed the eulogy with a thought from her 11-year-old daughter, Briana, who noticed something when the family got together to read that memory book just after Krause died.
“‘She spent so much time filling out every page ... but she left one section blank,’” Crowley said, quoting her daughter, who pointed out that the empty section was the one where Krause — who would have turned 94 this month — was supposed to give her biggest disappointment ever.
Krause, of Northfield, had lots of experiences in her life. She bodysurfed on her favorite Longport beach until she was 90. The only reason she stopped, said daughter Kris Stapleton, was that she had knee-replacement surgery at 91.
“And we went on a cruise last January, when she was almost 93,” said Stapleton, also of Northfield. “She went swimming with the dolphins and she was walking all over ... several different islands. Life was an adventure to her. She couldn’t wait to have activities, to go places and do things.”
Krause always liked fishing and crabbing, and Stapleton and her husband, Gary, do, too. One year, the Stapletons went out regularly trying to catch a keeper flounder, Kris Stapleton said, but they never had any luck. Then they invited her mom to go with them near the end of the season, She caught an 18½-inch flounder that Saturday and a 22-incher Sunday.
“Not bad for being 90 at the time,” Kris Stapleton pointed out.
But adventure was nothing new for this great-grandmother. In the 1970s, she and her husband, Ed — a proud U.S. Navy submarine veteran who died in 2005 — decided to try a long trip in his sailboat. They sailed from Northfield to Bermuda and back, and although Joyce later said the rough return trip was one of the scariest things she ever did, they kept on sailing.
On some vacations, they would charter a sailboat to go island-hopping around the Caribbean. And after the two retired — Joyce as a waitress at Atlantic City Country Club and Ed as a maintenance supervisor for Northfield’s schools — they traveled to California and back, staying in a 19-foot travel trailer.
“They also traveled all across Europe,” and even Russia, said Crowley, the granddaughter, now of Reisterstown, Md. “For people who had a pretty meager lifestyle, they certainly enjoyed their retirement.”
But Joyce also had fun just staying home. She was known in her neighborhood as the Leaf Lady, because every week of every fall for decades, she would fill her collection of 18 big trash cans with leaves to be picked up and recycled.
“She packed them in, stomped them down with her feet and everything,” her daughter said.“She wouldn’t buy the paper bags” to recycle the leaves.
Jim Truex, a neighbor for more than 50 years, said Joyce’s energy was shocking to see.
“When she was 91 or 92, she was out there every day” raking all those leaves, said Truex, who added, “I’m a kid next to her — I’m 85. ... She was just unbelievable.”
Joyce also had some adventures in her family life. She was married twice, had two kids with each husband and moved to South Jersey — after growing up in New York City and Wisconsin — with her second husband, Ed. Then her first husband, Joe, moved to the area too.
“Her ex-husband and my grandfather would celebrate their birthdays together” — at a party thrown by Joyce, said Crowley. And nobody in the family made a big deal of former and current husbands being the co-guests of honor.
“He was ‘Daddy Joe’ to me,” Crowley said, speaking of her Nan’s first husband. “I didn’t even know who he was for the longest time, until somebody explained it to me.”
Joyce loved reading romance novels. She loved playing Scrabble — and winning. And she loved her family and friends, of all ages.
“She had friends 30 and 40 years younger than she was, and they’re palling around with her,” her daughter said.
“My mother was playing Scrabble two days before she died” — including with a decades-younger friend from Indiana, who flew in to visit when she heard Joyce was sick, Kris Stapleton added. “She never thought of herself as being old and never talked about being old. ... She always capitalized on the positive, and I think that’s why she lived as long as she did.”
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