Joyce Rae Brewer was born on November 22, 1947 in Portland, Oregon to Sue Graham and Ray Brewer. She was one of six siblings. Joyce endured a difficult childhood, part of which was spent in the foster system. As a teenager, her life stabilized when she lived with “Auntie”, a gruff Canadian foster mom who provided stability and security.
Upon graduation from high school, Joyce embarked on a varied and colorful career. After working as a file clerk, she was wisely hired by the Multnomah County Food Stamps program, where her supervisor recognized she would meet customers with a compassionate heart, backed up by common sense. For several years, she worked at the White Eagle tavern as a bouncer, keeping the bikers in line, and having a wary eye out for the famous ghost who was rumored to roam the White Eagle. Joyce swore the ghost pushed her down the stairs. Joyce also trained to become a welder, scoring 100% on her tests and becoming one of the few female welders in the shipyards. She subsequently worked maintenance for TriMet, until she retired.
It was while she was employed at the old Oregon TB hospital that she met and became friends with Abby Maier. Joyce was a bridesmaid at Hugh and Abby Maier’s wedding. She became an integral part of the Maier family when they asked her to be the godmother to their daughters, Marissa and Morgan. She endeavored to be their “Auntie Mame”, spoiling them rotten, taking them on endless carnival rides, celebrating 21st birthdays, and swooping them into giant hugs. They adored her as their fairy godmother. Joyce was delighted to have four grand godchildren to spoil even more, and frequently declared Christmas her favorite holiday. The grand godchildren agreed with her philosophy of Christmas abundance.
Joyce was vibrant, joyful, and larger than life. And she did not suffer fools. A striking 6’1”, her smile and authenticity charmed those around her. Joyce loved music, particularly blues. In the 70’s she hung out at Euphoria, a music venue down by the river in S.E. Portland. She cut quite a figure in a long purple leather jacket with extra long fringes and very, very short skirts. In later years her favorite uniform was XXXL wolf shirts with leggings and high heels, with dangling earrings and necklace for sufficient bling.
Joyce loved all animals, be it tarantula or dog. When Tessa and Tundra, her two beloved half-wolves and companions, died, she chose a tiny dog with a big heart, Susie, who kept her company to the end.
Joyce’s greatest gift was her generosity and compassion towards others, and the community she wove with that love. Within her neighborhood and community of friends, Joyce was a ministering angel, watching over the aged and sick. She frequently walked the Springwater Corridor, Susie at her side, befriending individuals experiencing homelessness, and delivering homemade pear pies. She was known for providing housing to friends without homes.
Joyce left an impression on everyone she met, touched lives, and lived big. As one friend described her: “She had more grit than a dump truck full of gravel.” She will be missed immensely by all she left behind, but especially by her family Abby and Hugh Maier, Marissa and Morgan Maier, their spouses Nate Query and Reed Perry, and her beloved grand godchildren Birch, Finn, Lily, and Sylvan; and her community of committed friends.
If you wish to make a donation in her memory, these three organizations were dear to her: JOIN (joinpdx.org), Wolf Haven International Wolf Sanctuary (https://store.wolfhaven.org/donate.asp), and the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (lentsneighborhoodlivabilityassociation.org).
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