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Wanda Joy Beaver


1925 - 2019

Dr. W. Joy Beaver
January 29, 1925 - May 15, 2019

BETHANY
Dr. Wanda Joy Beaver, longtime early childhood education professor at Southern Nazarene University, went peacefully to her heavenly home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on May 15, 2019, at the age of 94. Joy was born on Jan 29, 1925, in Bethany, OK to the late Herman Ellis Beaver and Prebble Glee Peck.
Joy attended Bethany Public Schools, graduating from high school in 1942, and then began post-secondary education at Bethany-Peniel College, right across the street from her family home. It was there that she met the love of her life, Don Beaver, thanks to alphabetical seating in chapel. Joy graduated from BPC in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in Vocal Music Education, and she and Don married the next day.
Having decided to become a teacher when she was in the second grade, Joy jumped into teaching public school with a passion and wondered how anyone could be paid for doing something they enjoyed so much. She spent her first 12 years in public school settings teaching elementary school and music at all levels. At the same time, she continued her own education, earning a Master of Science degree in Elementary Education from Oklahoma State University in 1955.
In 1966, she was invited to join the faculty at BPC, which would become Bethany Nazarene College, and then Southern Nazarene University, to begin developing a degree program in Early Childhood Education. Joy became the founder and served as director of SNU's Early Childhood Program for the next 39 years. While teaching undergraduate and graduate classes full time, Joy pursued a doctorate degree at the University of Oklahoma and graduated with an Ed.D. in Elementary Education in 1984.
Joy dreamed of establishing a laboratory school for training teachers at the university, but there was no road map for creating such a school and no available space to house the program. Undaunted, Joy identified a building used only for storage and began to visit the university's dean on a daily basis to share her dream and request access. Because she persisted, in the determined yet positive way that was her trademark, the dean eventually gave in. Key in hand, Joy founded the SNU School for Children and served as its director for 34 years.
Always willing to lean in and lead, Joy served as the first woman SNU Alumni Association President and was active in numerous campus activities, faculty councils and committees, and student organizations. She was a frequent speaker, conducted workshops, and served on State Department of Education accreditation teams and as a consultant to public and private schools.
Over the course of her almost 60 years as a teacher and professor, Joy taught thousands of students. Her biggest joy throughout her long career was sparking in children a love of learning and in her university students a love of teaching. That love lives on in all of those whose lives she touched. They in turn have carried that love and passion into the world and to thousands more children. This is Joy's living legacy.
In addition to her commitment to Christian higher education and Southern Nazarene University, Joy enjoyed her lifelong membership in Bethany First Church of the Nazarene. She served as a member of the church board, choir and music ensembles, and as a Sunday and Bible school teacher, a Caravan leader, and delegate to many district assemblies.
Wherever she went and whatever she chose to do, Joy's commitment to Christ shone through. She was a champion for people and helped many find out that they could accomplish far more than they thought possible. She was known for her welcoming smile, her visionary ideas, her tireless energy, and her adventurous spirit.
Joy was a role model for her daughters and a ready instigator of fun family game nights and ice cream celebrations. She cherished her four grandchildren and showered them with love. Above all, she was a devoted wife and partner to her husband, Don. As Joy wrote of their union, "For 71 years, we have known and loved each other, prayed and sung together, laughed and cried together, taught college and university together and if we had the time, we would do it all over again." Though that time has now passed, Joy lived her life well and contributed much to many over its long arc. Her contributions and theirs together live on.
Joy was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Don; and her younger sister, Doris. She is survived by two daughters, a son-in-law, and four grandchildren: daughter, Gina McGarry and husband Mike McGarry and their children, Erin (married to Nathan Velders) and Matthew; and daughter, Jill Beaver Lee, and her children, Xiaochun and Mei.
The family offers special thanks to Joy's team of loving caregivers, especially Joane, who led the team and cared so skillfully, thoughtfully and compassionately for her, and Centennial Hospice, which helped make Joy's final weeks comfortable and peaceful.
Memorials may be made to the Dr. Joy Beaver Early Childhood Education Scholarship Endowment at SNU.
Viewing will be Monday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. with family present 6-8 p.m. at Mercer-Adams. Services will be held Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 2 p.m. at Bethany First Church of the Nazarene with interment in Bethany Cemetery. To share a memory or condolence, visit www.mercer-adams.com
Published in The Oklahoman on May 19, 2019
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