September 13, 1936 – September 23, 2021
Joy Stewart, 85, died in her Denver home on September 23, 2021 of a rare and incurable cancer. She was in the company of loving friends and family who read her favorite poems to her in the last hours.
Joy grew up in the small Texas town of San Saba. Her father worked very hard to support the family, and there were many times when they were “down to our last quarter”. She attended San Saba High School, where her writing career began as editor of the “The Hardshell Press” reflective of the school’s mascot, the armadillo. As was her nature, she was involved in many activities including Student Council, Spanish Club, National Honor Society, served as the scorekeeper for the girls’ basketball team and was voted Best All Around Girl. It was said she was “the smartest person who ever graduated from San Saba High School” but almost did not graduate because she could not pass the typing test. Her friends called her “Braveheart” as she was fearless. Once they were convinced there was a monster at a slumber party so Joy took a coke bottle outside to take care of it. She made many friends during her childhood and maintained strong relationships with them throughout life. The “Dirty Dozen” as they called themselves were a dear group, who have maintained their friendships for close to 70 years.
She left San Saba and attended UT Austin for college, where she earned her B.A. with Honors in English in 1958. The only time she struggled in school was in college chemistry class, which was in part, because the only science class she had in high school was taught by the PE coach and only involved tracing pictures of animals out of a book. Her college roommate was the chemistry professor’s assistant and had a copy of the final exam for the class in their dorm room. Joy knew it was there, knew she was failing the class, but never thought about peeking at the final. She was the most honest person you could ever meet. She did end up passing that class by the way.
Always up for an adventure, she left Texas at that point and moved to Colorado where she taught school and eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Linguistics with a special focus on the Russian language. She met and married Len Goodman in Colorado. She loved Colorado and only left because of Len’s job circumstances. From there she went on to live in New York City followed by London Ontario, Canada, where her two children, Heather and Devin, were born. They moved to California for a while and then ultimately back to Texas.
Joy experienced a parent’s greatest tragedy when her son, Devin, died at the age of 7 unexpectedly during what should have been a routine surgical procedure. Her grief was profound and she later said what helped her the most during that time was poetry and loving friends.
She opened her business, The House of Coffee Beans (HCB), in the early 1970’s because unlike in California, there was “nowhere to buy a decent cup of coffee in Houston.” HCB started in a little one room building on lower Westheimer Road. There was an adding machine for a cash register, hand written receipts, a one-pound scale and great coffee. There was excitement when the first sale of over $12 occurred. People came, more people came and before long HCB moved to a much larger space in Rice Village. Joy became involved with coffee merchants around the country. She traveled to Kenya to tour plantations and make connections. She imported two coffee roasters from Germany and figured out how to get them assembled. She imported green coffee from various countries and learned how to roast it. The retail business was highly successful so she added a wholesale business. She sold coffee to grocery stores and restaurants all over Houston. She was known as the “Bean Queen.” She owned and operated her business for close to 20 years. Customers became close friends. She knew all their names. She knew what kind of coffee they wanted and how they wanted it ground. When the shop expanded, the customers came to help with the packing and moving. Birthdays, weddings, births and graduations were all celebrated at HCB.
In 1990, Joy sold the business and joined her dear friend, Eve Barbaria, in Colorado, a place she had always wanted to return to. She loved the mountains, the climate and the new adventure it all brought. She began teaching again. One of Joy’s greatest passions in her life was the Denver Inner City Parish (DICP), a non-sectarian organization, which supports the low-income community of Denver’s West Side. Over many decades, Joy spent countless hours volunteering at DICP doing everything from serving Thanksgiving dinner to working in the Food Pantry. Joy also spent more than ten years serving on the DICP Board of Directors. Her favorite activity at DICP was teaching at DICP’s school, La Academia. Joy taught generations of students at La Academia and was one of the most beloved teachers at the school. Joy had a particular love for words, language and reading, which she passed along to all her students. Joy was an incredibly gifted teacher and a dedicated mentor to her students and remained a caring friend after they graduated.
Soon after moving to Denver Joy joined the Home Owner’s Association Board, a thankless job as anyone who has done it can likely attest. Being a board member did not last long as she became president quickly. She was always recruiting new residents to join the board, and she was quite good at it. They were usually first time homeowners and Joy told them it was their duty to become involved. She had every position on the board but one and that one required an accounting or CPA degree. Her last position was director of landscaping. Long after she was done, people still called, stopped by or flagged her down with questions ranging from how to change an air conditioning filter to how to find a pet snake that escaped.
She waited a long time for grandchildren and had almost given up hope she would have them. She traveled to Guatemala to help bring home both of her grandsons. She was their “Mama Joy” and joined them for many vacations, holidays and adventures. She helped edit many an English paper.
Joy was an ardent “yellow dog Democrat” her whole life. She was passionate about women’s rights and was active in the National Organization for Women for many years. She was incredibly proud of a picture taken of her with Molly Ivins, Sarah Weddington and her close friend Muffie Moroney. She did not complain but rather fought for what she believed in. She cared passionately for her country and worried about it deeply the last several years. Her knowledge of current events and history were immense. In the last weeks of her life, when she could barely eat a thing she was still able to discuss the intricacies of the Afghanistan situation, Texas politics and global warming.
She read the New York Times daily and completed the crossword puzzles. She had the paper delivered to her home. She was extremely proud of being able to complete the Saturday puzzle, as it was the toughest of the week. She was an avid reader of everything from nonfiction, biographies, poetry, mysteries and modern fiction. She was a firm believer in writing certain things down on paper rather than typing on a computer. She still wrote letters and mailed them. She wrote down and remembered hundreds of birthdays of friends and family. She loved the feel of a book in her hands as opposed to a Kindle.
She loved her cup of coffee in the morning and needed to have it quickly. She loved making dinner for friends and setting a formal table. She steadfastly persisted in teaching her grandsons the importance of a properly set table and good manners. She loved the first snow of the winter and the smell of the beach. She loved going to a movie theater. She loved London. She loved old soft t-shirts and a pair of good socks. She loved her friends deeply. She loved her cats. She loved life. She had a curiosity about the world, educated herself about it and got involved in causes she cared about throughout her life wherever she was. She set an example for the rest of us.
Joy is pre-deceased by her parents, Beatrice and LF Stewart, her brother, Jon Stewart and her son, Devin Stewart Goodman.
She is survived by her loving friend and partner, Eve Barbaria; daughter Heather Stewart Goodman; grandsons Maximillian Joseph Goodman and Dominic Devin Jose Goodman; beloved kitties Tess and Annik.
We would like to thank Eve Barbaria for her patient, gentle, devoted, loving care of Joy throughout her illness. Additionally we would like to thank Joy’s many dear friends who brought food, sat with her, read her poems and gave love during her illness--- Dave and Anne Kleinkopf, Victoria Emery, Marsha Heitzman, Linda Law, Elyse Peavy, Sue Radcliffe, and many more.
Finally, we’d like to thank everyone from Compassus Hospice Care especially Jennifer Movish, LPN and Brooke Ridenour, RN.
Joy requested that anyone wanting to donate in her name send those online to the Denver Inner City Parish: DICP.org or mail them to 1212 Mariposa, Denver, CO 80204 in her honor.
There will be several memorial services for Joy both in Denver and in Texas. The details of which will be announced when plans are finalized.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
October 8, 2021
I met Joy through my friendship with Eve. We connected when I saw the photograph of Joy with acquaintance, Sarah Weddington, and personal icon, Molly Ivins. Conversations about politics, global issues, concerns for democracy and a love of words, and of Eve, grew our friendship. I miss her vibrancy, intelligence, and passion for life. Hers was a life well-lived.
[photo: March on Denver, 1/21/17; left to right: Joy, Mary, Eve, Diane]
October 7, 2021
Joy was a Titan. I was active in The National Organization for Women with her in Houston. She was brave and never shied away from speaking the truth. She hooked me on good coffee and the HCB was a refueling station for feminist. If you wandered into the store when it was busy, Joy put you to work sacking coffee in the back. She was a staunch friend and I will miss her.