Joyce Robinson Kraus

KrausJoyce Robinson Kraus, 93, on September 9, 2018, in Berkeley, Calif. Joyce was born on December 26, 1924, to William Orrin Robinson and Mary Sherman in the house that William built in Falls Church, Va. Though she lost her mother to suicide when she was only two, Joyce was a cheerful child who enjoyed climbing trees. She had one sister, Mary, and two brothers, George and William. Joyce accompanied her father to his laboratory in Washington, D.C., and on walks in the woods, where he taught her to identify flora, fauna, and minerals.

Joyce skipped kindergarten because she could already read, and was always the youngest in her class. On the day before her sixteenth birthday, she met her older sister’s hero, a 38-year-old philosophy professor from Vienna, Austria, who would convince Joyce to make a life with him in far-off California. After graduating from high school, 16-year-old Joyce left in the middle of the night. She carried seven suitcases that she bought from the Salvation Army (one of them contained her entire rock collection) to the Greyhound bus station. Soon Joyce was on her way west.

Her first California home was a red-shingled ranch house and vineyard along Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail. When the grapes didn’t grow, the chickens didn’t lay, and the olives didn’t cure, she moved to Pasadena. Joyce received a bachelor’s in early childhood education from Pacific Oaks College, and began her lifetime career teaching nursery school. Joyce became a Quaker. Her final move was to her beloved Berkeley.

High above the Lawrence Hall of Science, Joyce purchased a house on Summit Road. She fell in love with the view, painted her front door turquoise, and helped her friend Gabriela build an icosahedron (20-sided dome) on the slope of her backyard. Berkeley Meeting would soon become her second home. Meeting meant everything to her. Joyce never took formal membership, but she faithfully attended for 41 years beginning in 1978. She served for many years on the Peace and Social Order Committee.

The rocks Joyce carried across the country were the first of hundreds of treasures that she would collect on her global travels. She never ceased to be cheerful, and was delighted to gain three great-grandchildren in 2018. Joyce loved children, poetry, handsome men, and beehive cakes from Berkeley’s Virginia Bakery. She was vulnerable, passionate, and fearless. Most of all, free-spirited Joyce was in love with life, and Berkeley Friends were all fond of her.

Joyce is survived by two children, Jerelle R. Kraus (born in 1943) and Carolyn Wells Kraus (born in 1945); two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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