Joyanne L. Helfert Flanders, 55, of Chilmark died on Sunday, February 20, after battling melanoma for more than a year. She died peacefully at home with her family.
Joy is survived by her husband of 25 years, Steven Flanders, their three daughters Genevieve, Allison, and Sarah. She also leaves behind her parents, Gilbert and Helen Helfert of Glastonbury, Conn.; her brother, Gary Helfert, and his wife, Hue, of Calif., sisters Kathy Buschi and husband, Brendan, of Delaware and Carol Frances and her fiancé Rick Harden of Connecticut. She was recently predeceased by her mother-in-law, Lorna Flanders of Chilmark. She will be dearly missed by six nieces and nephews and special cousin Kathy Phelan and her children.
Joy was born and raised in Long Island, New York. After graduating from Smithtown High School, she ventured out to Arizona, where she graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation.
So appropriately named, Joy brightened the lives of everyone who met her. She had a gift for making people feel special, and her gentle ways and wisdom benefited many.
An adventurer who loved the intrigues of travel, Joy spent time in Australia and New Zealand after college. Her adventures included many outdoor sports including hang-gliding, camping, cross-country skiing, rock climbing, and river rafting.
Joy realized teaching was her calling and she received her graduate degree in teaching from Long Island University – CW Post. She got her first teaching job on Martha’s Vineyard at the Oak Bluffs School. She also taught at the Chilmark School and in Tisbury, tutored during the summers, and retired this year after nine years teaching at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. Many, many students were touched by her during her 22-year teaching career.
Joy had a true love of teaching and has made a difference in many students’ lives. Her primary goal was to teach students how to read and write and become better learners. Her students responded to her way of teaching, and years later would let her know how much they benefited from her instruction and belief in them.
The ones who gained the most from Joy’s love and wisdom, were her three daughters, Genevieve, Allison, and Sarah. When she wasn’t teaching, she devoted herself to them.
Her funeral service was held at Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark on February 23rd followed by a potluck celebration of Joy’s life at the Chilmark Community Center. You could satisfy Joy’s desire by encouraging one another to share your stories at this celebration.
Because of Joy’s love of children, she requested that donations be made in lieu of flowers to the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA, 111R Edgartown Vineyard Haven Rd., Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. She also requested donations be made to the Vineyard Nursing Association, PO Box 399, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 so they may continue their good work.