The Malvern community will remember Mrs. Joy Pancoast by running, just like she did everyday.
Mrs. Joy Pancoast, a beloved member of the Malvern community, passed away due to a horseback riding accident this past June. Malvern was shocked, especially Mr. Williams, the Assistant Director of Admissions and Diversity.
“I have been very fortunate in life that I have not experienced very much loss,” Williams said. “So to have someone pass away so suddenly, that was one of the few people that for the past two years I walked by and saw every single day when I came into work, shook me and touched me emotionally in a way that I really wasn’t expecting.”
Williams always remembered seeing Pancoast everyday out his window, rain or shine, running or walking during lunch. She would even ski when there was snow outside.
“I thought what a nice thing and a wonderful gesture would it be to continue that on,” Williams said.
When Mr. Williams came up with his idea he approached Communications and Public Relations Coordinator Mr. Jim Mack about it.
“It just started out with some people in Austin Hall just going out and walking one day,” Mack said. “Then we got to the point where we should do one everyday. We brought it up at the advancement meeting as an interesting idea for the school community.”
In fact, Williams and Mack were not even prepared for the response they got. From just a few people in Austin Hall, Run for Joy transformed into a bulk of people both faculty and teachers from outside of Austin Hall as well as students.
On the first day Williams, Director of Student Life Dr. Jim Fry, School Psychologist Dr. Dorothy Sayers, and Advancement Coordinator Ms. Kate Rodgers were able to do nine miles collectively.
“Each day, Faculty and Staff are signing up to walk during that time because that’s when she would have walked during that time around campus,” Fry said.
On the spreadsheet, Williams has all dates and boxes designated for people to sign up. On days where no people are signed up, Williams as well as other volunteers will do it to ensure that someone is out everyday.
Williams has also decided to officially open up to students at the activities fair. Hosted by Fry, students will be able to get onto the spreadsheet and sign up to walk or run around campus during their lunch break. Students will also be able to take a selfie and put it on social media with #RunForJoy.
“People are also able to write in and make comments about what they thought about during their walk or run,” Williams said. “We are also tracking the miles, too. Because at the end of the year, it would be nice to try and quantify the mileage that we as a community put together.”
The happiest memory that Williams had with Mrs. Pancoast was when they made the connection that Williams knew her son. They had been playing pickup basketball for months. But Williams did not realize that he was Pancoast’s son.
“That was a pleasant connection because that kind of linked us even more than just being colleagues,” Williams said.
Mack described her as steady, even-keeled and friendly.
“She was unfancy in a good way,” Mack said. “She seemed like a real normal person. In the real world people can be crazy. It was so comforting to know that she was there to help you.”
Fry remembers how much of a calming force Pancoast was.
“She always had a smile on her face no matter what was going on,” Fry said. “She was just a very peaceful woman and I think for me that was the biggest memory of her. I felt like every time she put that smile on, she was giving you a hug at the same time.”