Beloved mother, grandmother, activist, nature lover and UFO aficionado, Joy Lamoreaux Anderson (aka “Snowy Owl Woman”), took wing on her new adventure at age 80 on Oct. 12, 2020. Although our hearts are heavy, we are comforted in knowing that the universe has gained another star.
It is difficult to sum up Joy’s unusual and free-spirited life in a brief obituary, since everyone who knew her has volumes of “Joyful” stories to share.
Born at the height of the annual Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 11, 1940, Joy grew up with four siblings in a small home in St. George, Utah. During summer months with no air conditioning, she would often sprawl out in her family’s porcelain bathtub to cool off from the heat, and she spent many late nights reading her favorite books with a flashlight beneath the kitchen table so she wouldn’t awaken her younger sister, Carole. In high school, when she worked as a waitress at the Big Hand Cafe, she used her tip money to buy the latest movie star magazines, which she generously shared with her little sis. Their dad had cooked for the stars on southern Utah movie sets, and the girls loved to imagine what it would be like to get their own starlet “closeups.”
Joy was first runner-up to Miss Dixie College in 1956 (she honestly should have won the whole enchilada), before she met and married Don Frei of Idaho Falls, Idaho, in 1958. They divorced in 1972 but remained friends until his death in 2008. As a single mother, Joy earned an anthropology degree at the University of Utah in 1980, all while fighting government plans to bring an MX missile base to Utah, and standing up for women’s rights. She encouraged her children to follow her example, and notoriously looked the other way when her oldest daughter stuck “ERA NOW” bumper stickers on every car in the local church parking lot.
In 1981, while working briefly as a taxi driver, Joy became enamored with the dispatcher’s deep voice and agreed one day to meet him for Chinese food. A few months later, she and Clint Anderson were married. They eventually started a small farm together, complete with chickens, horses and miniature donkeys. After Clint died in 2006, Joy moved to Levan, Utah, to enjoy a quiet life for nearly four years before returning to Salt Lake City.
Joy was a wonderful grandmother, who loved to show her grandchildren the night skies and have spirited debates with them around the campfire. She enjoyed black-and-white photography, working on her great American novel, creating herbal remedies, playing the guitar, gardening, beadwork and needlepoint, iced caramel coffees and birds of all kinds, especially snowy owls. One of her yearly highlights was attending the International UFO Congress in Arizona, where she enjoyed hearing about the latest sightings and meeting people who believed as she did – that we are not alone.
One of her last acts before she lost her mobility in November 2017 was to dress up as Gandalf the Gray from “Lord of the Rings” on Halloween and go trick-or-treating at each of her grandchildren’s houses.
After a serious knee injury prevented Joy from continuing her spirited antics and travels, an infection set in and her kids were told she had only a few days to live. She defied that prognosis, and although she would no longer walk and required a care center, she faced her challenges with courage and grace for nearly three more years. Until the pandemic cruelly cut her off from her family, she enjoyed frequent visits from her children, along with a steady supply of Hitchcock movies, mystery novels, political news (she was a loyal Democrat), smoothies and manicures.
Her sudden onset illness came as a surprise, and Joy died just down the hall from where her first husband passed away 12 years earlier. Wherever her soul is now, and whoever she might be with, we know she will add curiosity, kindness and a touch of Bohemian humor to the mix.
Joy’s memory and legacy will be carried in the hearts of her children: Cathy Free (Russell Weeks), Greg (Jill) Frei, Mike Frei and Karen (Eric) Migacz, and her six grandchildren -- Elliot, Phoebe, Maddie, Robben, Rory and Lily. She will also be fondly remembered by her southern Utah family: Ralph (Janice) Lamoreaux, Margene (Nils) Bayles, ArJean Lamoreaux, Carole (Boyd) Jensen and numerous nieces and nephews. She was proceeded in death by her parents, Arvil and Beatrice Lamoreaux and two brothers, Bruce and Paul Lamoreaux.
The family would like to thank LifeCare Center of Salt Lake City and Tender Care Hospice for helping to care for Joy during her final days. A memorial service will be held sometime next year when it can be done safely without masks so that we can toast her over lively discussions with her favorite champagne.
Joy’s ashes will be returned to the red rock country that held her heart, and will also be sprinkled at some point in Bordeaux, France, the homeland of her Lamoreaux ancestors.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you perform an act of kindness for a senior citizen in your life, particularly those who are alone.
“Sorrow prepares you for joy.” – Rumi.