PROSPECT — Joyce C. Kathan of Prospect died June 18 at the age of 82 after a long illness. For 21 years she served as the director of the Woodbury Senior Center, retiring in 1997. Joyce was a leader, a role model, a mentor, an organist, a photographer, an early adopter of Macs, and a tireless advocate for the rights of the aging, for the environment, for women’s rights, and for global peace and understanding.
After raising three children and many years as a busy minister’s wife, she returned to college and graduated magna cum laude from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in social work. Over the course of her career she became a leader throughout Connecticut in the field of aging. She was the information officer of the Connecticut Coalition on Aging and made weekly trips to the capitol in Hartford to lobby state government officials on bills related to the elderly or the environment. Struggling with hearing loss for most of her life, she educated many others on the issue. She served numerous organizations including the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging, the Connecticut Association of Senior Center Personnel, the Prospect Commission on Aging and the Central Naugatuck Valley Senior Service Network.
Devoted to women’s equality, she was active both regionally and nationally in the American Association of University Women (AAUW). While serving as president of the Waterbury AAUW branch, she helped to create an annual summer program for girls in math and science at Post College. She was the founder and director of the national AAUW Environmental Network. She served as the president of the Cheshire League of Women Voters.
On the international level she was a delegate to the “Earth Summit,” the 1992 global forum of the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro. She was also a delegate at the 1983 International Federation of University Women Conference in the Netherlands and at the 1991 Global Assembly of Women and the Environment in Miami.
In Joyce’s home there is a wall of plaques and honors received throughout her career. In 1987 she was selected as one of the outstanding Connecticut women for her work as a volunteer for women’s equality. She was honored by the VNA Health Services for her contributions to the organization; she was an honoree of the AAUW Educational Foundation; and she was cited in the Who’s Who of American Women, The Who’s Who among Human Service Professionals, and 2000 Notable American Women.
As an author, she co-wrote with her husband the book, “Youth Where The Action Is,” she wrote “A Citizen’s Guide To Environmental Action,” and was the author of a chapter, “The Role of Citizens Groups and Private Organizations in Combating Health Hazards,” in a two-volume book, “Management Of Hazardous Agents.” She wrote the first recycling handbook for the Town of Cheshire.
As a long-time member of the Prospect Congregational Church, she taught Church School, sang in the choir and served on church committees.
She was born Joyce Marie Clark on Oct. 28, 1931, in Middletown to Herbert G. Clark and Mabel (Lee) Clark. She is survived by her husband of almost 62 years, the Rev. Boardman W. Kathan of Prospect; a daughter, Nancy Lee Kathan of Yeadon, Pa.; a son, Dr. David W. Kathan of Somerset, Md.; a brother Robert Clark of Muscle Shoals, Ala., and four grandchildren, Maurie, Toby, Abby and Joey Kathan. She was predeceased by a son, Robert B. Kathan.
A memorial service will be held at the Prospect Congregational Church on Sunday, June 29, at 3 p.m. Preceding the service, friends and well-wishers are invited to gather with the family from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Prospect Memorial Funeral Home, 72 Waterbury Road. Burial in Prospect Cemetery will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Eleanor Roosevelt Scholarship Fund of the AAUW or the Elevator Fund of the Prospect Congregational Church.