|Birth: ||Apr. 10, 1942|
|Death: ||May 28, 1992|
My birthmother. Called by her middle name to differentiate her from her mother Dorothy, for whom she was named, Joan was from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Born at Riverview Hospital in Norristown, she was the daughter of William Hamilton Storkey V and Dorothy Ida Jenkins Storkey.
Joan was an intelligent and introspective girl. Tall and blessed with with lovely high cheekbones, she was later described by my birthfather as a "handsome woman" and "a sweetie". Her first sister in law says of her "To this day I remember she had a beautiful complexion, milky white skin." One of her high school friends recalled of her "She was a lady. She was soft-spoken and never called attention to herself." Growing up in a semi-rural community where outdoor activity was the norm, the kids hiked and played in the creek, and it's recalled that Joan preferred hikes by the water, not in the woods where she'd be more likely to get dirty. Physically, she matured early and grew tall. In class, she was not one to wave her hand to be called on, but if asked, she always knew the answer.
Since both her parents worked, Joan learned to care for herself and her little brother at an early age. By her teenage years, Joan worked an after-school job, would then go home to make supper for herself and her brother, and then do her homework. She babysat too. Despite the load she carried as a girl, her grades were very good.
Scholar or not, her parents believed girls were to be mothers and wives and so did not think she needed a college education. Interestingly, her father did see sense in making sure she learned to use a gun, and she was an excellent shot. When asked her birthday, Joan would respond "Four ten, like the shotgun." This skill came in handy during the early years of her second marriage when she lived in a very remote rural area where there were snakes, of which she had an extreme fear. It's quite an image, but she would sit on the porch with her baby in her arms, and a rifle by her side.
Her life was in some ways a tale of partially unused potential. Bright and hard-working as she was, lacking a higher education, and born in a time when women were not often encouraged to aspire to a life other than that of home-making, Joan worked mostly hands-on jobs, and as was common in her times, for much of her life was financially dependent on her husbands. Sadly, sometimes she found herself with men who were not always reliable partners or kind-hearted. Never speaking of such matters directly, she urged her children to take care of themselves, and to do better for themselves.
In later years, Joan moved from store-tending and waitressing to office work. She did very well with learning to use a computer and maintain databases, and was very competent in office mathematics. Her letters to me about this time in her life were full of Irma Bombeck-like humor, describing the strain of maintaining grace as a single mother, working to get ahead.
At one point, brave and curious enough to test her potential, she undertook the Mensa exam to see how she'd fare. Mensa is the oldest, largest and best recognized high-IQ society in the world, open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a supervised standardized intelligence test. Much to her surprise, Joan was notified that she qualified for membership... though she couldn't afford the dues.
She was not capricious in love and marriage, but she did make some unlikely and unfortunate choices while hoping to find a loving, steady partner. Joan's first marriage was to Adam Shirey, ending in divorce. She was next married September 12, 1970 to Mark Shulenberger, the father of the three children she raised. Her last husband was Richard Andrews, whom she married May 6, 1985, and they were divorced in 1988.
More than anything about her, I recall her voice. I remember the first time I heard it on the telephone when she softly spoke my name and made me cry. I remember her breathless way of speaking when she was overwhelmed by stress, most often when she spoke of wanting to do right by my siblings as a single mom. She was funny, because she could say some very fierce things, but I never heard her sound that way. Perhaps that tone was reserved for the children she raised. She had a wonderful laugh, very feminine and genuine.
Joan suffered from back trouble and had recurrent headaches. On a visit to a chiropractor, x-rays were taken and a tumor was found, so the chiropractor urged her to seek further treatment. On her 49th birthday, Joan was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, an aggressive cancer usually of the placenta. It is a trophoblastic cancer, trophoblasts being invasive and metastasizing cells of the placenta that normally become inert during pregnancy. This type of cancer tends to grow quickly and spread to other organs. In her case, the cancer had metastasized to her brain and abdomen. While normally it can be treated, it must be found early, and this was sadly not the case.
Blessed with a strong will, she fought a long and brave battle against the disease, at one point making a partial comeback that made the medical record books. Still, sadly Joan died of choriocarcinoma at age 50 on May 28, 1992, a Thursday, at 2:20 pm. The Social Security Death Index incorrectly lists her date of death as May 15.
While her Storkey predecessors are buried at Leverington Cemetery in Philadelphia, according to her wishes Joan was cremated and her ashes scattered in the Sassafras River - Turner's Creek - in Maryland, where her father's ashes had also been scattered.
William Hamilton Storkey (1910 - 1987)
Dorothy Ida Jenkins Storkey (1918 - 1998)
Adam Shirey (1941 - 1974)
Infant Female Storkey*
Dorothy Joan Storkey Andrews (1942 - 1992)
Infant Storkey (1946 - 1946)*
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Jun 21, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14667313