Floral 24

Dona Joy (Peters) McKell

July 31, 1927 ~ September 27, 2020 (age 93)


Joy was born in Pocatello, Idaho, the first of 4 daughters born to Edward Lloyd Peters and Dona Blanche Waters on July 31, 1927. She was a beautiful baby and lovely young woman. Although she was born in Idaho, she grew up in several states. Her mother, Dona, was from Rigby, Idaho but her father was from Brigham City, Utah. Her father was a postal telegraph operator and they moved from Idaho to Kingman, Arizona. At that time they had 3 daughters, Dona Joy, Carmen Carolyn and Beverly Jean Peters. 

Joy was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kingman in a member's swimming pool. She felt so good afterwards that she thought she could swim and jumped back into the pool. Unfortunately she could not swim and she sank to the bottom! Her father jumped in with all of his clothes on and rescued her! That was the beginning of her fear of water, swimming, boating, etc.! However, she always did love watching the ocean and walking on the beach. To her credit, she made sure all of her children had swimming lessons and we all enjoyed the water!

Eventually, her father took a job in Fresno, California, where Joy and the girls spent most of their middle childhood years. A fourth daughter was born in Fresno--Iretta DeLoris Peters. They loved driving to Yosemite and Bass Lake. A friend of their family had a cabin in Bass Lake and they would often go up to visit. They all loved to play softball! Even though their father did not have a son, they all took part in playing with him. He kept a ball and bat in his car for times when they would go for a drive and find an open field and play together! 

Joy went to 3 years of high school in Fresno and learned to jitterbug when she went out to the local Army base to help with USO activities for the troops! When her father had some health issues, they moved back to his hometown of Brigham City just before Joy’s senior year. While that was difficult, she was quite a popular girl among the young men as “the California girl!”

Saying Joy loved to dance is an understatement! She was quite the jitterbug queen! She kept that love throughout her life! Unfortunately, she married a man who was not a dancer! But she would dance with her sisters and her children and anyone who wanted to dance! After high school, her father was able to get a job back in Redwood City, California, working for his wife’s uncle, Henry Cowan. Henry owned a construction company and needed a Secretary/Treasurer. Although Lloyd did not have that kind of experience, he was the most honest person that Henry knew and was offered the job. So the family moved back to California.

Joy was now out of high school and she got a job working for a little while at United Airlines at San Francisco Airport. Then her father encouraged her to go to college and she went back to Utah to go to BYU. She was only there for one semester, when she met Fred Allen McKell. Fred was just out of the Army where he had served in the Philippines for 2 years during WWII. He was able to go to BYU on a military grant.

Joy was living in a basement apartment with some other girls, when one evening, a few fellows knocked on their door. They were looking for one of her roommates, but when Fred saw Joy he was mesmerized! He talked with her all evening! And returned for the next 3 weeks during which he proposed marriage to her! She said that was nice but they needed to have more time to get to know each other. So they dated 6 weeks and he proposed again! At which time she accepted! They set the date for August 17, 1948 which was about 8 months after they met!

Joy and Fred were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Her parents had offered to give them the money for a reception or a honeymoon--they picked a honeymoon! They drove up to Yellowstone and that was one of their favorite places to go after that. Fred was working in Salt Lake for Sears and they moved in with his mother after they were married. Neither one of them ever returned to finish college. But they encouraged their 3 children to do that! And we did!

Shortly after that Joy was expecting her first child--Linda Joy! At Christmas time that year, they decided to drive out to Palo Alto and visit her parents. As the story goes, it was snowing and blowing during the drive but when they got to California it was like a curtain went up and there was beautiful sunshine! By the time they got to Palo Alto, Fred said to Joy, “What are we doing living in Utah?!” They made the decision and, a week later, after their return to Utah, packed up their things and moved to California! They never regretted it!

When they arrived in Palo Alto, they had $5 in their pocket! They stayed for a little while with Joy’s parents until Fred got a job as a janitor at a meat packing plant called Swift and company. They got a little apartment in Redwood City and Linda was born at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, close by. Joy loved being a wife and mother. 

Fred was the money maker and Joy was the money manager. She kept a little notebook with every check he brought home and the expenses for each week. There was not much left over but they managed their expenses well in a time before credit cards. I have a memory when she was in high school, of them planning to go to a rodeo on Saturday that was an hour away. When the day came to go, her mother indicated they couldn’t because they did not have enough gas money! The family went to get ice cream cones instead!

As time went by, Joy and Fred managed their finances so well that they were able to buy their first home in Sunnyvale. Fred had progressed from janitor to working in the accounting department! He continued working in accounting for the next 20 years and they moved from Sunnyvale, where they were living when their son, Bradley Lloyd, was born in Redwood City, to Los Altos and then Los Altos Hills! Los Altos Hills is a posh area consisting of homes on one acre of land. They bought an acre filled with apricot trees and built a home on Weston Road. 

After only about a year and a half there, they decided to make a radical change--they moved to Brigham City, Utah, to be closer to family. Many years before, Joy’s father Lloyd had passed away and her mother, Dona, had moved back to Brigham City on the Peters property in Perry. Fred took a job as an accountant at Thiokol, a government contractor company, close to Brigham. They purchased a home there after living several months with Joy’s mother. However, after a year and a half, they realized how much they missed California and they moved back! And they brought a new addition to the family with them--a son named Chris Peters!

When they moved back this time, they were not able to afford to live in Los Altos Hills, but bought a house at 693 Camellia Way in Los Altos, close by. This was the home they lived the longest in to that point--from 1962 to 1978. Linda, Chris and Brad all graduated from Los Altos High School. Even though they enjoyed living there, Joy and Fred always wanted to move back to the hills of Los Altos. In 1979, they realized their dream of returning when they purchased an acre at 26321 Alexander Place. They built their dream home! They lived there for the next 40 years!

Joy and Fred made a great team. They loved each other dearly and progressed from $5 in their pocket at the start of their marriage and life in California to living in lovely Los Altos Hills. After they moved back from Utah in 1961, Fred had made another major decision--to quit accounting and become a State Farm Insurance agent. He went from a salaried job with benefits to being an independent contractor on 100% commission. Joy supported his decision and did what she could to continue managing the money and went to work part-time in his office. They went on to not only pay off their home in Los Altos Hills, but to buy a couple of small office buildings in downtown Mountain View where he was able to have his own office. They continually thought about ways to help their family and provide for the future. They succeeded in their goals!

Some of Joy’s interests were flowers and gardening; shell and rock collecting; stitchery and embroidery; decorating her home and keeping it immaculate; as well as, cooking and baking an amazing array of cookies! We have a nice copy of her cookbook courtesy of Aunt DeLoris Dorius, Joy’s youngest sister, who typed her recipes when she was working in their area one year before her marriage! 

Joy was a loving, loyal wife and mother. She was creative with the finances and always made a beautiful, comfortable home for her family. She will be dearly missed but we are so happy for her reunion with the family members who have passed before her. I'm sure our dad, Fred, was waiting with open arms for her!


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