Joy A. Thompson

On June 5, 2023, with recently coiffed hair and polished toenails, Joy left our world. Joy Thompson, 90, passed away peacefully in Newport News, Virginia, after living an active life in New Bern, North Carolina. Josephine Sabine was born to Joseph and Viola Sabine on August 27, 1932, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She was always known as Joy, which made perfect sense to everyone who met and knew her. She eventually made it easier for everyone when she legally changed her name to Joy.

Determined to make a better life for herself, Joy went to night school, while working full-time, to qualify for nursing school at Philadelphia General Hospital. It was in Philadelphia that she met her future husband, Ralph. Joy and Ralph married as soon as she graduated, and they began their life in Long Island, New York. A few years later, they purchased the first of what would be a succession of boats, which began with a small outboard and concluded with a 44ft ocean-going sailboat. Joy’s family life would revolve around boating on weekends, cruising on summer vacations to Cape Cod, and working long days in the spring in boatyards. After Ralph’s retirement, they moved to Fairfield Harbor in New Bern, North Carolina. The available time and distances for cruising greatly expanded.

Joy and Ralph made several winter cruises to the Caribbean, and summer cruises to the Canadian Maritimes. When their sea legs got older, they traded their sailboat for a succession of motorhomes. They traveled throughout the county, Canada and Mexico where they adopted two puppies. Her children realized their place in the pecking order when they discovered that only the dogs’ names were included in her internet passwords.

While in New Bern, Joy had a very active life playing golf and volunteering. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in New Bern, and various clubs and organizations including PEO (a philanthropic educational organization for women) and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Joy was always ready to try something new and went zip-lining at age 82. She enjoyed life and lit up every room she entered.

She was predeceased by Ralph Thompson, her loving husband for 55 years.

Joy is survived by her son Glen Thompson and wife, Kathy, daughter Nancy Schlecht, and son Ronald Thompson and wife, Nancy. She is also survived by five grandchildren, Lauren, Courtney, Lisa, Derek, and David, and three great-grandchildren who love and miss her. She also left behind numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives that will miss her.

Her family’s fondest memory will be last summer’s weeklong celebration of her 90th birthday in Nags Head. They plan to honor her life with a private celebration of life at a later time.


  1. Cathy Billone

    My heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family. Aunt Joy was a fine woman and she lived a wonderful life.

  2. Pat K Rowlett

    Joy often worked at the desk at our church in New Bern. It was a joy to have minutes to talk to her and exchange stories about boating. she lived up to her name in all kinds of ways.

  3. Joan Leibert

    Joy was a beloved member Pw Circle 1. We all loved her! Heartfelt condolences to her family who will miss her. She lived a joyful life!

  4. Priscilla Wormell

    Sad to read about Joy’s going on to another life. My condolences to all her family. Joy and Ralph were fellow boaters and ham radio enthusiasts. Our boating experiences were similar. Joy and I were both nurses and had much in common. She will be missed.

  5. Jackie Hice

    Joy had the perfect name for her..she was always a JOY to be with. Love the picture of her smiling face. That’s how I always remember her. Through illness and even an occasional bad day on the course, she always had that smile. We miss her here at Fairfield Harbour and offer condolences to her family and friends. Our prayers go out for her and you who had the privilege of having her in your family. Know you miss her so much.

  6. Ann Marie (Simko) Fink

    Technically Joy was a cousin and we only had a couple of occasions together during family celebrations on the east coast. My husband and I traveled from the Midwest for these celebrations so our attendance was rare. She made such a joyful impression that we started sending annual Christmas cards/letters. My late response to her passing is because our letter to her this year came back today which prompted my research to discover her passing.

    Our condolences to all of you who had her so well. I will miss her annual uplifting words at Christmas.

  7. Margaret Yarosh

    Dear Joy‘s Family,

    My heartfelt condolences to all of you. I too, had received a return Christmas card from Joy and just found out about Joy’s passing.

    Joy and I were lifelong friends who went to nursing school together at Philadelphia General Hospital. Joy was my matron of honor in my wedding in 1954, and I was in her wedding as well. We kept in touch over all the years, and I am deeply saddened by the learning of her passing.

    All the best to all of you, you had a wonderful Joy in your life. Great memories to you, as I have great memories as well.

    Margaret Yarosh

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