In Memory

Joy Kolehmainen (Reynolds)

Joy Kolehmainen (Reynolds)

Joy Kristina Kolehmainen Reynolds

May 31, 1944 - June 16, 2019

Joy Kristina Kolehmainen Reynolds died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 16, 2019. She leaves behind her sister Kay A. Kingsley (James), her brother Jan Kolehmainen (Kay); nieces, Lauren Snyder (Micah), Tara Billiter (Dave), Lynn Green (Seth); nephew Mark Kolehmainen (Ishughun) and sister-in-law Georgia Shultz. She embraced the role of Great Auntie Joy to great nieces, Morgan Billiter, Peyton Billiter, Aila Kolehmainen and great nephews, Brody Billiter, Wesley Snyder, Mason Kolehmainen and Micah Kolehmainen. She is also survived by her Serbian "adopted grandson" Drasko Raicevic and friend and former husband Kerry Reynolds.

Joy was born on May 31, 1944, in Tiffin, Ohio, to John and Astrid Kolehmainen. She graduated from Columbian High School in 1962 as the Valedictorian and from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, in 1966 with honors. Her major was Political Science; she was so talented that the department chair recommended her for a position in the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington that had previously been held by a lawyer.

Joy served as an Industrial Relations Specialist with the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Management Relations for 30 years, retiring in 1996. She spent a year in Michigan as the Executive Secretary to the Chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission. She continued to be active professionally after her retirement, contributing articles to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Monthly Labor Review and participating in national organizations in the field of labor-management relations. Her friends delighted in seeing her short-but-elegant letters, on subjects ranging from English usage to sports, published periodically in the "Letters to the Editor" section of The Washington Post.

She had a dry wit, inherited from her father, that confounded some and entertained many. Her curiosity about others and respect for the lives of even those she did not know was reflected in her abiding interest in reading obituaries. It is difficult to know whether this one would meet her high standards. She was fluent in Finnish, the language of both sets of her grandparents who immigrated in the late 1800s from Finland to Northern Minnesota. She spent summers growing up and much of each summer thereafter, particularly after retirement, in the remote woods by Salo Lake, where she had many dear friends and where her ashes will be scattered at a celebration of life at a future date.

She was a gourmet chef who could cook anything and could answer any imaginable cooking question. Her sister will be reduced to a future of "googling" an answer to particularly thorny culinary conundrums. She loved to share both her recipes and the finished dish with neighbors and friends. She created jewelry as a hobby and would sell it at summer markets at the lake.

She loved movies and opera. She had a love of international travel making trips to Spain, Egypt, India, Russia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Scandinavian countries and Central and Eastern Europe. She loved river cruises, and on the date of her death was planning her next one.

Joy's name reflected her outlook on life. She found joy in the simple things, in her generosity toward others with time, interest and gifts, and in truly making the effort to genuinely know people. She was a voracious reader who resisted Kindle reading until her sister convinced her it didn't mean she had to give up "real" books after which she was hooked. She valued nature, love and laughter, not possessions, except for books which were her passion, and which she freely shared.

She was a loyal and loving sister, sister-in-law, aunt and friend. She knew how to help yet balanced her involvement with boundaries and respect for the privacy of others. Her heartfelt acceptance of those she loved made others feel worthy and confident even in difficult times. Her giving and philanthropic nature are reflected by her wish that she be a tissue donor at her death and that any donations in her memory be made to as follows:

Published in The Washington Post on June 27, 2019

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06/22/19 04:12 PM #3    

Paul Paulus

I lived on the same street as Joy, Hedges St. on the Heidelberg campus.  I enjoyed our involvement in a regular political discussion group at school.  When I was on sabbatical in DC in 1982, I met Joy standing in line at the Supreme court. She worked at the labor department and the case being discussed has some relevance to her work.  It was good to reconnect with her on some past reunions.  As I remember she was the top student in our class, but she was also a class individual.  I will miss not seeing her again at our next event.

06/23/19 10:23 AM #4    

Jerrie Haines (Pryor)

So sorry to hear of Joy's passing. She was always a sweet girl, and I greatly respected her intelligence. My sincere condolences go to her family.


06/23/19 11:06 AM #5    

Jim Flechtner

I did not meet Joy until high school, but she certainly made her presence known then.  She was one of the "academically inclined" and she put the class in our class.  She was also a main reason that the class of '62 was the finest ever to attend Tiffin Columbian!  Her success after high school was a credit to her academic achievements.  She will be missed. 

06/23/19 11:53 AM #6    

Steve Drake

The news of Joy's death hit me hard and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it was because several of us exchanged greetings and birthday wishes with her just a few weeks ago.  Or, was it our Memorial Day conversations? Or perhaps her words about enjoying the north woods of Minnesota, a place near where I'm headed in about 30 days. I had not kept in touch much since graduation.  I agree with Jim and others that Joy was the class of our class.  An absoutely brilliant woman.

06/23/19 12:36 PM #7    

Mary Jo Harger (George)

Joy, you were an inspiration to us all to work harder and achieve more by setting the academic standard bar so high.  I remember you most in Latin class and how I wanted to sit in that “first” chair (or even next to you).  May your journey now be full of peace and love. 


06/23/19 10:21 PM #8    

Penny Smith (Turner)

I was so saddened to hear from Kay, Joy's sister, about Joy's death.  Joy had been fighting a rare cancer that was in remission.  She was stricken suddenly by an unexpected pulmonary embolism.  The two of us kept connected after college, especially since their mother was a resident of one of the condos here at St. Francis, as am I.  We became quite close.  Joy, Jim Flechtner and I got together for lunch a few times.  Joy and I emailed frequently.  She often spoke about her many trips abroad.  It was always such a pleasure to keep in touch.  I admired her intellect -- who didn't? -- and her ability to make me laugh.  She will be sorely missed by so many of us.

06/24/19 06:33 AM #9    

Paul Thomas

Joy was one of the "Heidelberg Brats" along with Anita Kramer and Bob Davis, so we met early on because of that relationship.  Her sudden passing creates an empty spot.  Her intellect and somewhat dry sense of humor was to be admired.  I remember sitting with her on the "band bus" to away football games on more than one occasion and the great conversations that unfolded. Safe journey to the other side, my friend.

06/25/19 01:31 AM #10    

Jane Thompson (Paige)

I envy all of you whose lives crossed with Joy's since high school.  I haven't seen her since graduation. She was an extrordinary person. Mysynpathies to her family. The world is a little poorer without her presence.

06/30/19 02:56 PM #11    

Anita Kramer (Shew)

Dear Friends,  Have been gone. Just got back to my computer.  Still processing that Joy is gone. As life-long friends since grade school at College Hill, we had just finished exchanging our April/May birthday gifts and lamenting how we got to be three quarters of a century old.  We shared so many things--childhood summer cabins in Minnesota and Wisconsin, international travels, politics, our careers, general worldview.  We could write to each other about anything, since we knew each of us would understand.  Joy always kept the standard high.  We can honor her memory by doing the same.  Goodbye, dear friend.  

07/01/19 08:16 AM #12    

Cindra Fry (Mullins)

So very sorry to learn of Joy ‘s passing . I remember Joy for her smile and kindness. Rest In Peace and love to your family. 

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