Joy Lea Wittner of Enumclaw, Washington passed away Sunday, February 9, 2020 in Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw, Washington, at the age of 82.
Born in Coffeyville, Kansas on June 17, 1937, she was the daughter of Ernst Lawrence (BUD) Kaufman and Ruby G Kaufman (Jamison). She was born at home, and was still a child during WWII. The family was fairly poor, the rural home having no electricity, no running water or inside toilets. Survival was hard work. Joy grew up shucking corn, working with Bud on the farm, feeding animals, preserving and canning and “putting up” food. They had a “root” cellar, and put potatoes and such under the house, an insulated, metal lined, wooden “ice box” for the milk and ice cream. No AC, and three wood stoves, including the kitchen stove. Early life meant pumping water, hauling water and heating water on the stove. Sleeping 3 kids to a bed, and wearing hand-me-downs, sharing bath water in the kitchen and using an “outhouse” for goodness sake. Walking to the school house, with 6 grades and about thirty kids, in one room.
Bud and Ruby had 8 children. Joy had six sisters and one brother, in a house with only three bedrooms, and no bathroom.
At the age of 16, on June 9, 1953, she married her childhood sweetheart Norman Wittner, age 18, also from Coffeyville. Together they moved to Wichita in 1954 where Norman worked for the Boeing Company. She had a baby boy in 1956, same year the Kaufman farmhouse got an inside toilet. Two years later, tragedy came into her young life. She had physical medical problems with her second pregnancy and her twins were born prematurely, and passed away. She was unable to conceive again after that. They moved several times those early years, Norman working the “Minutemen Missile” silo program. Travel began to slow when they came to Spokane, Washington, working for Boeing. Life was good, lots of swimming, boating, water skiing and sunshine.
Joy and Norman wanted to move to Seattle, but the company wouldn’t transfer him. They took a gamble, Norman quit in Spokane and they came to Seattle in 1962. He had to re-apply and get rehired. Moving those days meant pulling their 8’X30’ mobile home with the one ton GMC panel truck, which had a straight 6 and 4 speed manual gear box. Their young son, riding on a fruit box between the seats.
Joy was a real “Go Getter.” Perhaps a “Type A” personality. She started working while in high school at the local bus stop coffee shop. Her father would pick her up after work and take her home. There were not too many years that she did not have a job outside of the home. Even while in the small trailer park, in South Seattle, she did others’ laundry, and ironed and starched their shirts, for extra money. Joy worked from 1965 to 1968 at the coffee and donut shop in Renton “full service” car wash, she worked the grade school lunch room, and later worked for the University of Washington Conference Center, at Lake Wilderness in housekeeping.
She enjoyed making her own spending money. She loved new clothes and sparkling jewelry. She knew the best brands of clothing and the names of the better furniture makers. She was constantly cleaning, even washing down the walls. She really enjoyed going to the Tukwila auction house, coming home with new stylish furniture.
She was an honorary volunteer Fire Fighter for F.D.43. Maple Valley, Washington. She always made sure the volunteers had something hot or cold to drink and goodies to eat. Somehow she had the knack of meeting new people, and would soon know every interesting factoid about that person, and remember it all. She was dependable and loyal to a fault. The families and neighbors she had in those early years became close “lifelong” friends. With many nights, drinking, smoking and playing Pinochle card games late into the night, at the kitchen table.
Everyone who met her, loved her. What a gift. She admired strong willed, capable women and had no time for lazy, unmotivated and incompetent people.
Joy was proceeded in death by her husband, Norman in 1996, her infant son and daughter in 1958, her parents, 5 of her sisters and 1 brother. She is survived by her sister Ruth (Roy) Griffin of Springfield MO, son Robert (Tricia) Wittner of Buckley, WA, grandson Jake and his son Wyatt of Bonney Lake, WA, grandson Josh (Tanja) Wittner and their daughter Willow of Woodinville, WA, grandson Curtis (Kelsey) Wittner and their children Logan and Hadley Joy of Sherwood, OR.
Graveside service will take place on Friday, February 14, 2020 at 11:00 am at Hobart Cemetery in Maple Valley, Washington.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington.
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