USAO News Bureau

JOY, Atha L. (Martin)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Atha L. Joy With profound sadness, we are announcing the passing of Atha L. Joy of University Place, Washington. Her family and friends will miss her very much. Atha was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma to Armel William and Jewell Vivian Martin, on November 5th, 1945, six years to the day after the birth of her future husband, Jim. She grew up in Ponca City and Okmulgee with her sisters Carole and Debbie, brother Pat and many cousins and friends.

She trained in dance starting at an early age, performing and teaching in her sister Carole’s studio. Upon graduation from Okmulgee High School, Atha attended Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha where she met Jim Joy who was stationed at nearby Ft Sill. They were married in 1965 and immediately left for Germany, beginning a 26 year odyssey as a vagabond Army Wife and mother. She made the best of where ever they were sent, whether in a farmhouse in Germany, a camping trailer in New Jersey, a small house in the Texas hill country (with snakes in the yard), or here in Washington, left alone with her children and a husband in Vietnam. Through it all, she was the one who smiled, unpacked the boxes and re-hung the curtains, then laughed and looked pretty at the battalion party.

Atha contributed countless hours to the Army Community, serving with the Red Cross in surgical clinics, volunteering with youth groups and schools and even choreographing and dancing in a community show. For these and other efforts, she was honored by the Commanding General at Ft Knox, Kentucky. But her favorite memento was a small plaque she received to recognize her part in interrupting a quarrel between a senior US Military official and the senior representative of a foreign government. You stopped 'em, Atha it said.

In 1991, Atha and Jim moved to University Place, where Atha finally got a home of her own to decorate as she pleased. She lived there with her family until her untimely death on November 29, 2008 at the age of 63. She is survived by Jim, her husband for 43 years, daughters Jennifer, Melissa and Sarah, son Michael, grandchildren Chris, Dominic, Kari, Chelsea and Angel, her sisters Carole and Debbie, and her faithful cat, Kitty. Her husband, family and many friends will miss her touch, her warm smile and her kindness to everyone.