Joy Memmelaar, 48, of Mountain Home, died peacefully at home after a long fight with cancer on Nov. 7, 2007, with her brother, Jack, and his wife, Jen, at her side.
Memorial services were held Saturday, Nov. 10, at Mountain Home High School in Mountain Home. Arrangements were by Summers Funeral Homes, Boise Chapel.
Joy was born Dec. 12, 1959, in Goshen, N.Y., to Jack and Betty Lou Memmelaar. She and her older brother Jack spent their childhood on the family homestead in Chester, N.Y. Joy always spoke fondly of the "old house" and the land that surrounded it, her family noted.
After graduating from high school, Joy decided to move out west to attend Boise State University. At the time, BSU had a women's softball program and it was her hope to "walk-on" the team. The program ended shortly after she came to Idaho, but Joy decided to stay and pursue a degree in Education.
Upon graduating from BSU, she moved to New York to teach Physical Education and coach at Cornwall High School.
Joy loved Idaho and she returned to make her home here. The outdoors and open spaces fit her active lifestyle. An avid softball player, it took no time for Joy to make friends and join both ladies and co-ed teams, her family noted. "For over 20 years, you could spot her on the ball fields by her trademark long, blonde pony tail. A fierce competitor and gifted athlete, Joy made the game look easy. She was at her best when she played and was the recipient of multiple MVP awards over the years."
In 1990 she accepted a position at Mountain Home High School. Joy taught Health and Physical Education and coached volleyball and softball.
"She touched many young lives as a teacher and coach," her family said. During her career, Joy was chosen twice as "Softball Coach of the Year" for high school sports in Idaho. "It was an honor to have the recognition and respect from her peers," her family said.
"Coach Mem" loved working with the players and often mentioned that "heart" was more important than talent. She expected her teams to love the game the same way she did. Play hard and leave everything on the field, her family noted.
"After her diagnosis, Joy never allowed her cancer to interfere with practice or games. You didn't hear her complain or make excuses, even when feeling her worst. The determination and spirit Joy displayed served as inspiration to all around her.
"This was never more apparent than last season when her girls won the District Championships and went on to place second at state. It was the best finish ever for a Mountain Home team. The girls rose to the occasion, they played with heart, they played tough, they played for 'Coach Mem'."
Over the years, Joy cultivated a wealth of friends who became her "family," her family said. "It would be impossible to mention them all. She loved traveling with Bev, Michelle and Wendi, with whom she shared many adventures.
"Her dear friend Karen became her 'rock' during Joy's illness. Karen was there for the duration and we are forever grateful for her commitment and compassion," her family said.
"In her final days, a constant stream of players, colleagues, friends and family came to visit. Joy's courage and strength were as evident as her quick wit and humor. The house was filled with laughter and love and we are forever grateful for that special time."
She is survived by: her brother, Jack, and his wife, Jen; her nephew, Jason; her niece, Stephanie, and her husband, Jim; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins and her precious cats, Kira and Chub.
She was preceded in death by her father, Jack, and her mother, Betty.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made directly to the Mountain Home High School Girl's Softball program or to the Memmelaar Memorial Scholarship Fund set up at Idaho Independent Bank at 310 American Legion Blvd., Mountain Home, ID 83647.