It was a good life.
Kathleen Rita (Joy) Maltais willed her weary heart to survive to see her 76th birthday. Force of nature that she was, it did so — but not a day longer. She died on Saturday, April 29.
Blessed with far more than the usual quota of beauty and brains, Kathleen was born to Leo Francis Joy and Mary Cain (Wilcox) Joy in 1947. She attended the Duley Lake School on the Colville Reservation through fourth grade. She could be a naughty little girl at the one-room country school, once persuading a trusting classmate to crawl down the toilet hole in the outdoor privy with assurances that she would follow (she did not, of course).
Kathleen next attended Christ the King School in Omak through eighth grade, and graduated from Okanogan High School in 1965, where one of her favorite classes was journalism.
She tried Wenatchee Valley College for part of 1965 before moving to Seattle to live with her half-brother, Ted Wilcox, and his wife, Nancy. A favorite story recalls Ted, then Managing Editor and Ricochets columnist for Fishing & Hunting News, who ribbed his straight-arrow sister that one had to “smoke cigars, drink black coffee and cuss like a trooper” to be a successful big-city newspaper editor.
Rising to the challenge, Kathleen walked into The Seattle Times, then the state’s largest daily, and asked management for a job. She was hired on the spot at age 19 as one of the paper’s editors (true crime writer Ann Rule’s old job) — and its youngest.
When her brother returned home that evening, he found Kathleen sitting at the kitchen table holding a cup of black coffee and a lit cigar.
“Where the %!!*#@*!? have you been?” she scolded.
Kathleen married (some claim outside her species) Michael Maltais on Nov. 22, 1967, and the couple welcomed their only child, Michael Hunter (the Huntermouse), on Aug. 12, 1969.
She later carved a career in the male-dominated trucking industry, founded her own consulting company in 1986, and purchased her mentor, Pacific Traffic Bureau, in 1990. For the next 20 years she represented major U.S. companies including Apple Computer, ARCO Alaska, and Weyerhaeuser. Oh, the stories we could tell … like how she once persuaded H. Ross Perot — then the Bill Gates of his era — to work with her. They would fill a book.
Semi-retirement to a home on the Loup Loup outside of Twisp was interrupted by the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire and subsequent flood that destroyed the property and access to it. The couple started over, relocating and rebuilding on the Colville Reservation in 2015, four miles from the Joy home ranch. They barely saved that home from the 2020 Cold Springs wildfire.
Kathleen spent her remaining years on what she described as “the place I love more than anywhere else on Earth,” while nurturing a motley assortment of rescue animals.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Mary and Leo; half-brother, Ted Wilcox and sister-in-law, Nancy; older sister, Mary Louise Jones; younger brothers, Michael and Martin; sister-in-law D’Arlene Hadfield; niece-in-law Shan Port; nephew-in-law Tye Hadfield; and grand-nephew, Ryan Willson.
Survivors include Michael, her husband of 55 years; son, Hunter; brother, Maurice Joy on the home ranch; sister, Margaret Gisselberg (Jim), St. John, Washington; brothers-in-law Buzz Maltais (Loretta), Kim Maltais (Lenore), and Duey Hadfield, Twisp; nieces Marie Stevens (Ron), Omak, Erica Willson (Gary), St. John, Cindy Boyd, Sherwood, Oregon, Shay Shaw (John), Oroville, Tammi Wilson, Wenatchee, Zandy Hall (Steve), Wenatchee; nephews Mike Jones (Sherri), Malott, Ben Atkins, Omak, Todd Maltais (Bonnie) ,Twisp; grand-nieces Teanna Stevens, Omak, Kayla Boyd, Sherwood, Mary Kate Littlefield (Ben), St. John, Chloe Tahayer (Allan), Beaverton, Oregon, Brittney Shaw, Oroville, and Jessica Demchuk, Spokane; grand-nephews Shane Stevens, Omak, Seth Jones (Brianna), Colorado Springs, Colorado, Gabe Boyd, Sherwood, Charlie Maltais (Carly), Fife, Logan Shaw (Stephanie), Maple Valley, and Zach Demchuk, Spokane.
Special friends in her life were Randy Hill, Norman, Oklahoma, Wanda Armstrong, Moxee, Washington, Ann Fisher, Seattle, Ed Dirkes, Seattle, Sheila Crowder, Okanogan, Carol Sivak, Malott, Hannah Roberts, Puyallup, Charlene Knapp, Okanogan, Jan Abel, Okanogan, and Sue Harkey, Anaheim, California.
A grateful thanks is extended to the Omak Fresenius dialysis team for the care and affection they showered on our precious patient.
At her request Kathleen was interred in a simple ceremony and natural burial on Tuesday, May 2, at Fort Okanogan Memorial Cemetery north of Monse and near the home she loved.
A small group of family and close friends attended the Catholic and Native American graveside service.
Father Jake from St. Mary’s Mission, who baptized her son, delivered the last rites.
Her husband recited three of her favorite poems.
Ben Atkins performed a ritual blessing with smoke and sweetgrass.
Befitting how Kathleen lived, the day was glorious, full of grace, unforgettable.
It was a good death.