Joyce Vacek passed away just before 8 pm EST on Friday, September 11 in Kenora, Ontario, Canada--one country and a lifetime away from her birthplace of Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Joyce owned a camp in Sioux Narrows, Ontario, Canada that she operated with her second husband, Frank Vacek. The camp was nestled on the eastern shore of Lake of the Woods and consisted of some freestanding hunting cabins spread around a lake with an attached restaurant. She cooked in the restaurant, but she could only keep up the hotel part after Frank passed of lung cancer in the late '80s.
Her grandson, Eric Rineer, joined her for several summers in a row to mow, fix things, and eat her luscious food. She was a good cook and had a special fondness for sweets, so Eric always came home about 20 pounds heavier and completely tan. Her granddaughter, Anna Rostock, would later divulge her secrets to a great box cake, "You add a package of pudding, and no one will know it's a box cake!"
In the last few months, it was these memories of Eric at the camp that were the ones her mind chose to keep. Joyce met Frank in Chicago when she attended a trade fair in her capacity as manager and buyer at the Castle Gift Shop at Dutch Wonderland amusement park in Lancaster, PA. This was a job she'd take after her divorce from her first husband, Eric Rostock. She was a natural and enthusiastic shopper and enjoyed selecting items that others might desire.
In the winter months in the late '80s and '90s, Joyce resumed her life in Mesa, Arizona. Here, her granddaughter, Cher Rineer, would join her for the month of January, "We'd sleep side by side in her queen size bed and shop every day. She'd hop out of bed early in the morning with an energy I could never duplicate though I was decades younger. The weather in January in the southwest is enviable, and there was always a pool to enjoy at the apartment complex she stayed in. We'd make side trips to far away outlet malls to hunt for bargains, play bingo in retiree communities, and spend hours with her many friends. She had close friends in every place she lived."
Joyce was meticulous about her surroundings and her appearance. She was especially fond of turtles and had many special pieces featuring the animal. She preferred large handbags and bright colors, and always stated her age as 29 - later adjusted to 39 as the years wore on. Her family would never have known her age if not for the fact that she shared a birthday with Willie Nelson, so they could always look it up.
Her appearance was matched by her tenacity and confidence, qualities deeply admired by her family. She was always very resourceful and a great bargain hunter. Her children and grandchildren have fond memories of receiving boxes of random, but useful, items in the mail because, "They were on sale!"
She traveled to Boise, Idaho yearly to see her children, Thomas Rostock and Diane Rineer, and to attend Art in the Park, an outdoor art show she adored. During those visits, she'd complain about the poor clothing choices up north and made it her mission to send a box of new, fun shoes home with her at the end of her stay. She'd typically send more than 10 pairs home all scoured from department store bargain racks. As with everything that lives, that energy eventually dimmed. She stopped traveling and made Canada her permanent residence. Diane and Anna helped clean out her apartment last winter, and she moved into a retirement home complaining the entire time about the loss of her independence and her many beautiful things.
Diane and Anna wish to thank her most wonderful friends in Canada who helped them tremendously, plied them with home cooked goodies to boost their energy, provided them with family that could help move bigger pieces of furniture, shared their nursing home advice, and gave them hugs and wishes of good cheer. "You boosted our spirits at this difficult time, and we are grateful for your many visits and phone calls to boost Joyce’s spirits. She said MANY times she was so blessed to have such great friends."
Joyce Vacek is survived by family in three states and many more friends in both Canada and The United States. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Saint Andrew's United Church, 211 Bay St, Keewatin, ON P0X 1C0, Canada, or the charity of your choice.