If Heaven truly is "the place where all the dogs you've ever loved come to greet you," there must have been some very happy reunions and many tails wagging on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, when Joyce Leader Naftzinger was reunited with her husband, Bob, her parents Leon Leader and Florence (Swoyer) Leader, as well as many beloved four-legged family members who predeceased her.
Joyce passed in her favorite place in the world, her home in Ocean View. She was born Feb. 28, 1931, in Reading, Pa. But with her love of swimming and the ocean, she was always destined to live near the beach.
When she was young, she enjoyed trips to Atlantic City with her parents. As a teenager, she was an accomplished dancer with The Marie Shaw Dancers. She performed at many venues in the northeast, including Carnegie Hall in New York. Of course her favorite engagements were the ones that would take her near the ocean. The shows on Steel Pier in Atlantic City and nightclubs in Ocean City, Md. allowed her to enjoy lazy afternoons on the beach after long nights of dancing in the chorus line. Always a "head-turner," she had many admirers on the beach as well as in the nightclubs.
In 1952, she married a Wilson High School sweetheart, Bob Naftzinger. They moved to Dover and raised three children; Bobby Naftzinger (Moe), Jill McKinney and Tana Naftzinger (Dwayne Boughter).
In Dover she performed with the Kent County Theater Guild, spent sunny summer days at the Maple Dale Country Club pool and played cards regularly with her bridge club. She continued playing bridge well into her 70s with friends she made after moving to New Jersey in 1977.
In her high school yearbook, she listed the beach and travelling as two of her favorite things. In her long and interesting life she was able to enjoy both. After leaving Dover in 1971, the family lived in Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and New Jersey. She and Bob travelled to Europe, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean. In her later years she satisfied her wanderlust with road trips all over the East Coast, packing up the car with a cooler and her favorite travelling companions, her dog and her daughter.
Joyce was always an artistic soul. She wrote poems and short stories, but oil painting was her true love, and she was quite an accomplished artist. The walls in all the homes where she had lived were filled with her beautiful artwork. She left an extensive collection of seascapes which we will continue to enjoy along with all those memories of the times she made us laugh, intentionally or not.
She was an excellent swimmer and her favorite form of exercise was swimming laps at the Y. She was still swimming a half mile several days a week, even into her 80s.
Besides relaxing on her porch with a good book in her hands and a cat on her lap, her other favorite places were the beach, the boat, Blue Coast restaurant, Mickey's, and of course the library. She even worked as a librarian in Greenville, S.C., and Deptford, N.J. She loved being surrounded by books, and her idea of Heaven would be an endless library with all the books that were ever written and ever will be.
Joyce was not an experienced cook when she and Bob were first married. She loved good food so she quickly learned to make delicious meals. She left behind many recipes, but her family will still miss these meals because she rarely followed her own recipes. Though each meal was delicious, nothing ever turned out the same way twice. This may have been partly due to the fact that, like so many great chefs, she enjoyed "cooking with wine."
She loved reading her mystery novels but her TV viewing was limited to things that made her laugh. She was a big fan of Mel Brooks and Peter Sellers movies. She must have seen "Young Frankenstein" and "The Producers" dozens of times, but she would still laugh out loud even though she knew the dialogue by heart. She also never got tired of watching "The Birdcage" and "What About Bob." Her favorite TV shows were "Mom," "Monk," "Stephen Colbert," and a silly show called "Svengoolie" that aired old horror movies.
In addition to her three children, Joyce is survived by six grandchildren, Nikki McKinney (Paul Yanero), Rusty McKinney (Kelly), Ryan Naftzinger (Marcie), Katie Palmer (Brian), Jordan Naftzinger and Jamey Rogers (Richard); also eight great-grandchildren, Riley and Maggie Naftzinger, Cabrina, Amalia and Tyrus McKinney, Bailey and Kagan Palmer, and Paisley Yanero, all of whom she prayed for every day and loved deeply, although from a distance.
She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Linda Bonnett of Arnold, Md; and her two beloved cats, Tubby and Wishbone, who are missing their favorite warm lap.
If Joyce had one dream in life it was that no animal would ever be homeless or hungry or suffer in any way. She did her part by adopting as many rescues as she could, and feeding any stray who was smart enough to wander to her door. Of course these "strays" ultimately and predictably became cherished family members.
Joyce was a firm believer in living life without regrets. If she had one, it may have been not being able to finish the Lisa Scottoline book she was reading when she left this world. Other than that, she enjoyed her life, she did what she wanted and she followed her dreams. Her favorite song was "Cabaret," and that summed up her philosophy on life.
"A rainbow held out its shiny hand, so what could I do but laugh and go!"
Joyce Leader Naftzinger 1971
Should friends desire, memorial donations may be made in Joyce Naftzinger's name to any charity that benefits the welfare of domestic animals or wildlife.
All services are private. Arrangements are being handled by Parsell Funeral Homes and Crematorium, Clarksville Chapel, Ocean View.
Please visit Joyce's Life Memorial Webpage and sign her online guestbook at www.parsellfuneralhomes.com.