The Heroines

Joyce Janeway Mittenthal

is honored with a Medium Paver from Marilyn Mittenthal, D.O. and Linda Topping, M.D.

Joyce was born on April 2, 1928, to Grace and Robert Janeway, a middle-class Jewish family living in Detroit, Michigan. Her father was an engineer with Chrysler Corporation. Her brother Cornell was five years older.

She went to public school through high school. In 1949 she graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, a college her grandmother had picked out for her before she was born. She majored in mathematics. After college, she traveled to Europe and then went to Washington, D.C. She worked for the federal government for several years in intelligence. She met a young lawyer, Richard Mittenthal, who was working for the National Labor Relations Board. After a brief courtship, they married. Soon her husband accepted an opportunity to enter the field of labor arbitration. They moved to Detroit, a return Joyce had never anticipated but which pleased her.

The next ten years were exceptionally busy with her husband getting established and the births of their four children: Marilyn, born in 1955, Robert, in 1957, John, in 1960, and Peter, in 1962. Joyce took her children on almost daily excursions to such places as the beach and the zoo. She read constantly, solved puzzles daily, cooked endless meals, washed mountains of laundry, and answered the children's myriad questions truthfully and thoughtfully. She also was a mother to other children in the neighborhood who were not so fortunate as her children; as one of these said, "You were the first person who valued me for myself."

As her children grew older, Joyce became interested in the school system and in civic issues. She tutored many children in math and several adults through the Literacy program. She joined the League of Women Voters and became interested in the housing problems of low-income people. She was awarded the Detroit Volunteer of the Year Award in 1966 and was elected President of the Detroit League of Women Voters in 1969. She was a founding member and chair of the Michigan Housing Coalition, the Fair Housing Center in Detroit, and the Michigan Housing Trust Fund.

At the same time, Joyce was an essential support to her husband. Dick became a nationally recognized labor arbitrator, served on several Federal panels, taught at the law schools of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, published in his field, and was elected President of the National Academy of Arbitrators in 1978. His presidential address is still cited by other arbitrators.

Joyce both responded to the changing needs of her husband and family and maintained her own interests and friendships. All four of the children graduated from college; two of them have advanced degrees (one physician, one Ph.D.) and the other two are active in the fine arts (one poet/literary critic and one sculptor/printer). Three are married, and the other is in a relationship. Joyce worked for decent, affordable housing for the disadvantaged and minorities for 30 years. She continues to have lunch regularly with friends she first met when they were all twelve.

In 1997, Joyce and Dick bought a place in Longboat Key, Florida, and are beginning to approach retirement. She just celebrated her 70th birthday there with Dick and all their children and grandchildren. Another phase in her life has begun.

Why do we celebrate the life of this woman? She is unremittingly steadfast in her integrity and her commitment to her family and the larger community. She has given of herself and yet managed to find time for her own interests. She cares about others and takes care of them in a multitude of ways. She is intelligent and uses that to facilitate her interactions with others. She is daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, civic activist, and her own person. For all this, we love her, recognize her, and honor her.

September 5, 1998