Joyce Lockhart Lubold died March 3, quietly at her home in the Campground, after a brief illness and surrounded by her children. She was 86.
She was a writer and editor, a lifelong champion of the people she loved, a humanitarian, activist and a colorful leader known for meeting life’s challenges with humor, class and dignity.
She first started coming to the Island with her family in the early 1970s, but in the last five years made it her year-round home. She was an active and engaging member of an Island reading group and a writing group and enjoyed the spectator sport that is Island politics.
She enjoyed playing bridge often. She particularly liked the camaraderie of the game, sometimes ribbing friends when they became overly competitive. She was a published author and a former editor in New York, but she also enjoyed the kind of writing she did on the Island, because it offered so many interesting things to ponder.
Many of the stories she wrote for the group were about the humor of Island life, its odd assortment of characters, or what the unique nature of the Campground houses said about the people who lived in them. She often used activities or the people she knew as metaphors for her world view, taking her readers along for a circuitous ride in her characteristic way to reach a final, salient point.
One recent story compared the plight of the Island plover to bridge players. “Today small flocks of these previously wide-ranging Island residents can be spotted in isolated areas that gather and feed most often in local senior centers, though two or three sometimes collect in widow-walked homes of year-rounders who, counting their diminishing numbers in dismay, can easily be spotted.”
To everyone she touched, she was known for her wit and warmth, her self-deprecating style and an uncanny ability to make people feel good about themselves. She took particular pleasure in puttering, building bookcases or playhouses for her grandchildren, using scrap materials found on the beaches or in her backyard shed. She was an intrepid treasure hunter who often used metal detectors to unearth odd assortments of articles – once taking particular pleasure in the finding of a dollhouse toilet seat and then days later finding the toilet itself in the ground several feet away. She often worked Island beaches and parks stealthily before dawn, sometimes returning home in mock dejection with a bottle cap and quarter and a car-full of sand.
Joyce Lubold was born in Hollywood, California, on March 23, 1924, and raised outside New York. She graduated from Smith College, and one of her first jobs was as owner of a literary agency in the city. She married Justin Lubold in 1950 after meeting him at a Gilbert and Sullivan musical rehearsal. While living in New York and raising a young family, she became an editor at Simon & Schuster, where she “discovered” Charles Schulz and “Peanuts” – only to be rebuffed by an improvident boss. Mr. Schulz went on to another publishing house.
She and her husband moved to Corning, New York, where they bought a log cabin to raise their four children. She was a one-time school board member and continued to write with her longtime friend, collaborator and sister, Jean Moore, also a summer Island resident for many years.
She brought her particular brand of domestic humor to McCall’s, the Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest, Ladies Home Journal and Redbook. Doubleday later published “This Half of the Apple is Mine – How to Be Happy Though Married,” a compilation of many of her articles, in 1965. She also co-founded a regional literary and humor magazine in New York called “The Finger Lakes Chronicle.”
A car accident in 1973, in which her son Justin McNeil was severely injured, led to a new chapter in her life. She became dedicated to helping people with brain injuries and was an advocate for the mentally and physically disabled. She was a founder of several agencies and worked tirelessly as the executive director and board member of several of them.
She is survived by three children, Alan Durnin, Jean Lockhart, and Gordon Clarke, and five grandchildren. Justin McNeil died in 1978. Her ex-husband, H. Justin, died in 1997. Donations may be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Camp-Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs.