On June 7, 2014, the BC book community lost a very dear, talented and exuberant person, children’s author Joan Betty Stuchner. Joan resided in Vancouver with her family, where she wrote part-time and taught part-time. Joan passed away after a short but spirited battle with pancreatic cancer. One of her great loves was writing stories, which she did with precision and humor, to the delight of many young readers.
We asked Joan’s friend and fellow author, Cynthia Heinrichs, if she would put together a short post in honour of Joan’s memory. Cynthia was there to assist Joan with some of the editing for her second and third books in the Bagels series while she was in hospital. We thank her deeply for sharing this note and for supporting Joan during a very difficult time.
by Cynthia Heinrichs
Joan Stuchner and I were thrown together in 2006 when I was given a manuscript of hers to edit. She was a veteran author and I was newbie editor, not at all sure I was up to the task, but by the end of our first meeting, Joan had put me completely at ease. That was one of her many gifts.
When Joan was diagnosed with cancer, she told me that she couldn’t die because she still had too many books to write, that she had wasted so much time. She was right about the books—the world would be a better place with more of Joan’s books in it—but she was wrong about the time. Joan Stuchner was a woman who used her time wisely. Though she loved to read books and to write them, the majority of her considerable energy was spent on what really mattered to her: people. Joan was a brave, gracious, warm, generous, kind, supportive, loving, uplifting, classy and absolutely hilarious woman with a knack for making everyone she met feel like they were her friend because they were, or soon would be, if Joan had any say in the matter. No matter how many friends Joan embraced, she never had to spread herself thin to provide them all with love, encouragement and a lot of laughs.
I’m very grateful for the part of Joan’s life that she spent on me. She was my unflagging cheerleader, always available, always brightening my day. If there can be a silver lining in the untimely loss of such a lovely person, it is that readers will receive at least two more of her books. From her hospital bed Joan finished final edits of the next two installments of her Bagels series, both due out with Orca in 2015. It gave her a great deal of pleasure to write these books, and a great deal of satisfaction to know that they would find their way out into the world. Those who knew Joan, and miss the distinctive sound and rhythm of her voice, will be able to hear it again in these hilarious stories. Nothing she wrote was more ‘Joan.’ Bagels the Brave and Bagels On Board are a joyful legacy and will undoubtedly earn her a whole new group of friends—something that would have delighted her very much indeed.
A recent article appeared in The Jewish Tribune in which Joan is interviewed about her first book in the Bagels series, Bagels Come Home. To read the article, visit http://www.jewishtribune.ca/arts-and-culture/2014/06/01/a-nourishing-tale. This interview originally appeared on May 22, 2014 in The Jerusalem Post.