On a chilly morning on Jan. 22, 2021, Joan Gentry Patadal died peacefully in the arms of her beloved daughter, Beatrice Patadal Pattarroyo. After the past 40 years, Joan bravely faced multiple catastrophic illnesses with humor, intelligence, understanding, and courage, with a positive will to live.
In 1950, Joan was born to James and Beatrice Vanderhoop Gentry on the Island; she was the baby of the family. Joan’s father was in the Air Force, and was stationed at Stewart Air Force Base in New York, and in Germany, where he retired with the family, moving to Oklahoma in the winter and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer. The family eventually moved to the Island year-round. During the winter in Oklahoma, Joan had piano lessons, and her teacher recognized her talents. She entered Joan in the state championship, and Joan won second in the state.
During the summer for a number of years, Joan’s parents managed the Jose Giles Gift Shop in Edgartown. To expand their businesses, Bertha Giles offered her sister Bea a partnership in the store in Oak Bluffs, Indian and Mexican Crafts, where Joan grew up working until she had an opportunity to work at Sears year-round. Joan graduated from high school on the Island, and was the valedictorian of her class. During the summer after graduation, she attended a concert by Up With People, and auditioned to join the group. While living on the Island, Joan taught herself to play the guitar. She had a beautiful voice, but she decided to go to college.
Meanwhile, Joan decided to work first at a corporation in Boston and then as an administrative assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital. Since one of her younger cousins was going to school in Utah, Joan was talked into attending school in support of her cousin. After a couple of years in school, Joan moved home, and worked with 17 other Aquinnah Wampanoags who attended a tribal ceremony pledging to work together for tribal federal recognition. Joan was selected as the first tribal administrator, and wrote the tribe’s first funded federal and state grants.
While working, she met, married, and moved to Oklahoma. She had her daughter Beatrice, who was the sunshine of her life. After leaving her husband, she decided to go back to school to complete her degree. Immediately after completing it, she had an offer from Boston Indian Council to be the assistant finance officer and then finance officer. During her employment she was diagnosed with a progressive disease, and Joan felt that her daughter would have a better life growing up on the Vineyard than in Boston. At her going-away party, her boss said that besides Wilma Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, Joan was the only person she knew who could pick up the phone and raise money for the center.
At first she managed her parents’ store, and then she owned the business. Joan enjoyed working in the store, and loved the people in Oak Bluffs. She carved out a life that was happy for both her and her daughter. Apparently the medical community felt like she had a good handle on her progressive disease. They would call and ask her to meet with people who were recently diagnosed with it.
After her father died, she and her mother cared for each other. They were surrounded by their extended family, who helped them whenever they were needed. Many thanks to Berta Welch, David Giles, Carla Cuch, Adriana Ignacio, Amera Ignacio, and Ona Ignacio and her sons Riley and Skyler, who lived on the Island; to Joan’s relatives, who visited when they came home, Barbara and Melvin Colby, Cynia and Thea Akins, Bobby and Beverly Macdiarmid, Jan and Steven Held, and Douglas and Linda Vanderhoop. Joan also had the support of her father’s side of the family, whom Joan visited when she lived in Oklahoma, and years of phone calls with Kathyrn Freeman and Doris Jean Proctor, both from Pryor, Okla.
In addition to her family, she received assistance from the tribe, Ryan Malonson, Sarah Saltanstall, Angie Madison, Tnisha Chandler, Yovvone Michleson, June Manning, Christain Brown, Eleanor Hebert, Amika Datta, Brett Stearns, Trudy Vanderhoop, Michael Siletti, and Pam Melrose. The Vineyard Nursing Association and all its nurses, the physical therapist, the speech therapist, the social workers, and the home health aides provided excellent care for Joan. In addition, the Howes House and the health program in Oak Bluffs provided needed technical assistance. All the nurses and doctors at the hospital provided the medical assistance Joan needed, and the ambulance service came to the house and brought her to the hospital. They were wonderful in that time of emergency. The town of Aquinnah and its Police Department came in the middle of the night to rescue Joan; and the retired town clerk, Carolyn Weiner. We have learned that it really does take a village to assist the family in caring for a loved one. Joan was fortunate to have a loving family and a community who had the knowledge and skills and the heart to help with the care of Joan.
Perhaps her daughter provided the most needed assistance, receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing and caring for her mother the last three years of her life. Bea and her husband and children provided the love and care that Joan needed. Joan loved and cherished her grandchildren, and was thankful for all the help her son-in-law provided. The other vital person in Joan’s life was her best friend Marguerite Cook, who for years would talk to Joan day or night to support her efforts to live.
Joan was the daughter of the late James and Beatrice Gentry of Aquinnah, the sister of the late Russell Gentry of Waterbury, Conn.; and the sister of Barbara Gentry of Aquinnah. Joan is survived by her daughter Beatrice, and her husband Fabian Pattarroyo and their three children Killion, Khloe, and Maria of Del City, Okla.; her brother Russell’s daughters, Adrian Gentry, and Nicole Gentry and her daughter Aydan. Joan’s extended family are Melvin and Barbara Colby and family of Cranston, R.I.; Bobby and Beverly MacDiarmid and family of West Virginia; Cythia and Thea Aikens of Roosevelt, Utah; Douglas and Linda Vanderhoop of White Rocks, Utah, and family; Jan and Steven Held and family of Millers, Md.; Adriana and Bruce lgnactio and family of Aquinnah; Carla Cuch and family of Aquinnah; David and Alicia Giles and family of Aquinnah; Berta and Vernon Welch and family of Aquinnah; Lewis Colby of West Tisbury; Micheal Colby of Cranston, R.I.; Brooke and Denis McKillop of Washington; Leslie and Rich Begert of Washington; and Debra and Kendell Russell of Washington.
Because of the limitations we are living under at this time, her services were private.