Winifred Joy Wafer (née Uhler) was born to Charles and Mary Uhler in Des Moines, Iowa. At a young age, she and her younger siblings — Eugene, Richard and Patricia — rode on a wooden box in the back of the station wagon when the family moved to California, which may have ignited a lifelong love of adventure.
Joy graduated from San Jose High School in 1947. Determined to get a college degree, she put herself through school by working as a clothing model and at the Del Monte company removing cherry pits on the fruit cocktail line.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from San Jose State College in 1952, followed by a master’s degree in 1954 and subsequent doctoral work at Stanford University.
Joy began a 51-year teaching career in Palo Alto in 1952. She used her career to feed her love of traveling, which led to four years of teaching in Germany, Japan and England.
She met William Clyde Wafer Jr. at the Royal Air Base in Greenham Commons, England in 1960. They married in March of 1961 and settled in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Bill helped run a friend’s veterinary clinic. The humidity — or possibly a bagful of crawdads that escaped inside her Volkswagen bug — motivated Bill and Joy to leave Louisiana.
En route to California in 1962, they took a detour to check out an ad for a partnership in a local veterinary practice in Arizona. That detour set the stage for the next 58 years, as they settled in Show Low to begin their new life. Joy taught for one year at Snowflake before moving to the Show Low School District, while Bill grew his practice.
They then welcomed a son named William Clyde Wafer III (Trey) and 18 months later added a daughter, Mary Katherine Wafer. Joy and Bill embraced the family life they worked so hard to build, punctuated by academics, sports and outdoor activities.
As her children grew, Joy passed on her love of travel by insisting that the family join Bill at various veterinary conferences around the southwestern United States. The family opened their doors to exchange students from Brazil, Denmark, Spain, and South Africa. Joy also sparked a passion for reading in both of her children and willingly fed that fire with new books at every turn.
Joy’s career in the Show Low School District was highlighted by her circle of colleagues, many of whom remained close friends throughout her life. Her greatest love, beyond her family, was supporting and fostering the potential of thousands of kids that walked into her classroom. She engaged them, challenged them and helped them become their best selves. Many students look back on their years with her as some of the best of their time at school.
When she retired from teaching, Joy and Bill enjoyed their golden years by once again traveling the world, often with friends. They went to every continent except Antarctica, visiting places like Machu Picchu in Peru, the Three Rivers Gorge in China, and multiple safaris in Africa.
Joy passed away in her sleep on June 25, 2020.
She is survived by her husband Bill, her children Trey and Mary, her brother Richard, four grandchildren, and countless lifelong friends. She lived a full life of love, service, family and friendship. She is sorely missed.
Arrangements were provided by Silver Creek Mortuary.
If you would like to send your condolences to the Wafer Family, visit the website at silvercreekmortuary.com