Joyce Brown Scheffey was born on November 14th, 1929 and died on August 4th 2023. She spent the last few of her remarkable 93 years letting her family and friends know that she had lived a wonderful life and was at peace with it coming to an end.
Joyce’s mother, Marie Adels, was a stage actress who married Tom Skeyhill, an Australian poet and soldier who fought at Gallipoli and published the diary of Sergeant Alvin York upon which the Gary Cooper movie was based.
In 1939, Joyce attended the Manumit school, a co-educational boarding school on a working farm in Pawling, New York with strong ties to the New York labor movement.
After Manumit, Joyce went to Goddard College and then to the Katherine Dunham School, where she met Marlon Brando, Eartha Kitt, and her future husband and Kitty’s father, Benton Cole, whom she married in 1949. They divorced in 1951.
In 1953, Joyce married Gwilym S. Brown, with whom she had attended Manumit. Their son Jason was born in 1958. Gwil was a staff writer for Sports Illustrated and Joyce, Kitty and Jason moved to London in 1967 when Gwil became S.I.’s London Bureau chief. She spent three happy years exploring Hampstead Heath, London Museums and Theater, the Continent, meeting lifelong friends and learning how to play tennis on grass courts.
After Gwil’s death in 1974, she moved to New Paltz, NY and worked in the Programs Department at Mohonk Mountain House. She made more lifelong friends there..
A mutual friend introduced Joyce to Lewis Scheffey and they married in 1981. They lived in Monterey MA and founded the Monterey Preservation Land Trust. Land conservation was Joyce’s passion and the MPLT conserved hundreds of acres of land, including the beloved Scheffey homestead, Turkeybush. Turkeybush was the site of countless family celebrations, political and conservation fundraisers.
Joyce moved to Woodland Pond in New Paltz in 2018, where her activism found a new home and friends.
She loved music, including Jason’s tribute to Jack Kerouac, The Beginning of Bop; Beethoven’s String Quartet 15; Count Basie; John Hiatt’s Hey There.
She could recite The Mountain Whippoorwill, Henry V’s Crispin Day speech, Talking Union, most of The Lady’s Not for Burning (she was delighted to discover Richard Chamberlain’s version on the internet) and Ode to a Nightingale, which she was more than “half in love with.“
Her favorite authors were Jane Austen, Christopher Fry, Peter Grainger, Vikram Seth, Anthony Trollope, and most recently, Amy Bloom, whose book In Love she recommended to everyone interested in learning about dying with dignity.
She is survived by her daughter Kitty Brown of New Paltz, NY; her son Jason Brown of Sheffield, MA and his partner Corinna Barnard; her granddaughter Lydia Weiss [James] Weiss of Washington DC; her grandson Jamie Skeyhill Vermilye of Highland NY; great-grandchildren Rex and Eliza Weiss; niece Maria Giese of Stonington CT; numerous, beloved Scheffeys, including sisters-in-law, stepsons, nephews, nieces, grandchildren; and daughters from another mother, Caitlin Langstaff and Diane Attebury.
Burial at the Rosendale Green Cemetery was attended by family. A memorial gathering will be scheduled for a later date.
Donations in her memory may be made to Greenpeace or Planned Parenthood.