LAST YEAR, GSBA RECEIVED A CALL NOTIFYING US THAT JOAN HUBER HAD NAMED THE GSBA SCHOLARSHIP FUND IN HER WILL. A call like this is never happy news, as we mourn the passing of a friend but in Joan’s case, it also created a mystery. We had no idea who Joan was or how she was connected to the Scholarship Fund. I met with her brother, John Huber, and he explained that Joan, a person of very modest means, had lived very simply. Her family had been surprised to learn that her only legacy gift was to the GSBA Scholarship Fund. He didn’t know how she came to make that decision, and so the mystery got deeper.
John invited me to attend the celebration of Joan’s life, where the veil of mystery began to lift. Rita Smith, one of the early Scholarship founders, was hosting the gathering! When I told her of Joan’s gift, she remembered bringing Joan to one of the early GSBA Scholars Dinners, but had no idea that Joan had included the Fund in her will over 20 years ago! Rita was visibly moved, yet not surprised, to learn of Joan’s generous gift.
As I listened to stories of Joan’s creativity, humor, and devoted friendships, I came to know a bit about this truly generous person. I felt honored to be in the presence of all the love that exuded from her friends and family, and was sad that I had not been privileged to meet her in person. As she so often did with gifts of sewing, quilting, singing, and more, Joan quietly decided to leave a legacy to support LGBTQ students long after she was gone. Those recipients will never know Joan but their lives will be forever changed because she was moved many years ago, perhaps even before they were born, to make a difference that will keep her spirit alive for generations to come.
“Joan thought in terms of community. She was a generous, playful and caring friend, who nurtured connections between and among people wherever she encountered them,” says Rita Smith. “She was raised a ‘preacher’s kid,’ moving with her family from her West Virginia birthplace, townto- town across the US, and eventually to Okinawa, where she went to college. Upon returning to the States, she served as Director of Recreation Centers at Fort Lewis Army Base. She started a small food service business on Orcas Island before becoming the manager of Fred Meyer Nutrition Centers across the Northwest.”
“Joan had a life-long love of the beach, the sea and all things ‘fish.’ She was extremely talented at sewing, painting, quilting, needlepoint, paper art, woodworking, and jewelry making. She designed and created impressive clothing for herself, friends and charity auctions.” “She was a vital member of a long-time women’s song circle, and often proclaimed that we should sing Pete Seeger’s ‘Well May the World Go When I’m Far Away’ at her memorial. Clearly, her bequest to the Scholarship Fund makes her heartfelt intention tangible – supporting GSBA scholars who will help make our world a better place.”
Photo: During the 2017 GSBA Scholars Dinner, the Joan Huber Scholarship was awarded to Anne Bryson-Doyle (center), who attends the University of Washington as an Interdisciplinary Visual Arts Major. We think Joan would have been proud to know that someone who values the power of creativity was chosen in her name.