Don & Joy at the Bridge Table

Joy MacIlraith - Wife, Mother, Director and Actress

Don & Joy MacIlraith

• Don & Joy MacIlraith met at Cornell University. Both were Chemistry majors. Due to the outbreak of WWII, Don and Joy had to suspend their education process when Don enlisted in the military. They married and she joined him when possible during his military service. Don is from Evanston Illinois. Joy was born in Michigan but raised in upstate New York.

• Don served in the US Navy during WW II. He was assigned to the USS Balduck which was a destroyer escort being built in Bay City Michigan. Don traveled on the Balduck from Bay City down the Mississippi through the Panama Canal to San Diego. One of Don’s jobs was to repair the radar/ sonar at the top of the ship’s mast. He remembers climbing the mast as the ship was rocking from the waves. When asked if they ever lost a crew member doing this task, he responded “a few”.

• The Balduck was transformed into a ship whose purpose was underwater demolition. The ship traveled to Okinawa where in Don’s words, “More ships were assembled in one harbor than had ever been assembled”. These ships were stationed in preparation for the invasion of Tokyo Harbor. Don’s ship would have been one of the first ships to go as his ship carried “frogmen” whose purpose was to clear mines and netting in the Tokyo Harbor in order that the invasion ships could safely enter the harbor. Joy is thankful that the invasion never occurred as the Balduck would have been an obvious target for the Japanese airforce.

• After Don’s service to his county was concluded, the couple returned to Cornell where Don finished his education. He became employed by various companies whose purpose was to develop and produce paints for the automotive industry. His career took his family to many locations including Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, London, England (Don was in charge of automotive paint sales for all of Europe). Don & Joy lived in California for most of their lives, having fallen in love with the Golden State during his days in the Navy. Don retired in 1982 as a Vice President of Inmont and General Manager of a plant in Morganton, North Carolina.

• Joy had an interest in drama in high school. As daughter Jill recalls, the longest the MacIlraiths lived in one location was seven years. Besides raising a family and frequently relocating, Joy resumed her interest as an actress in various community theatres. Joy had acting performances at the Theatre of Western springs in the suburbs of Chicago, at the “Tustin” playhouse in Southern California, and at the Art Barn, former theatre in Sedona. She performed lead roles in several plays. Among those are Veda Louise in the play “Harvey”, Jessica in “Merchant of Venice” (by William Shakespeare), lead role in “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen. She played a sister in “Night must fall” at the Sedona Art Barn.

• As Bridge is a partnership game, so is marriage. Joy and Don raised two children, son Steve and daughter Jill. They have 4 grandchildren and soon to be five great grandchildren. The couple retired to Sedona with daughter Jill in 1982.

• Don & Joy’s bridge career began at Cornell and continued through their family life. They took lessons from the legendary Russell Roosen while living in Michigan. The couple has earned almost 4000 masterpoints, many of them earned the hard way. Most notable accomplishments:

o Don & Joy earned their Life Master at the Gatlinburg Regional Tournament in 1980. The tournament needed a pair to not have a half table for the Women’s Pairs event. The tournament directors “begged” Don & Joy to enter this event. They were not eligible for the overalls but earned enough section points to obtain their Life Master. The couple was featured by Jerry Macklin in the “Bridge Bulletin”. Of course, Don earned the knickname “Donna”.
o Don & Joy also won First Place in the 1987 Fall North American Championships in Anaheim Califorinia in the Richard L. Frey Senior Swiss Team event with Betty & Gene Dillon.
o Joy and Don were the Top Masterpoint winners at the Lancaster California Regional tournament in 1987. They were first in the Super Open flight A Pairs event.
o Joy and Don were the Top Masterpoint winners in the 1983 Mesa Arizona Senior citizens tournament. They were first of 146 teams that participated in the Master Swiss Teams Event with teammates Sylvia Ward and Alice Gonzalez.
o Joy and Don earned a second place finish in the 1984 Flight A Swiss teams event in Ventura California
o Joy and Don finished second in the Navajo Trail Regional Tournament Senior pairs event in 1991.

• With the help of the American Contract Bridge League in Memphis (“Mr. Oaks”), Don became involved in the formation of Northern Arizona Unit 355 in 1990. Don contacted each club (including Lake Havasu, Prescott, Sedona, Flagstaff) and obtained the necessary 65% of members signatures on a petition. The Board of Directors established by-laws, again with the assistance of the American Contract Bridge League. At this time, Fran Edmond and Gwen Thomas of Prescott joined Don on the Unit 355 Board of Directors. Don remained president of this board for almost 9 years until Gerene Gluckson took over the reins. Gwen Thomas remained on the board until her retirement for health reasons in 2009. Fran Edmond remains on the board until this day.

• In 1991, Hanna Chanksky, the prior owner/ operator of the Bridge Club in Sedona became ill and died. Don with the help of Joy formed the Sedona Oak Creek Duplicate Bridge club at that time. This club was formed as a non-profit membership organization and obtained the necessary IRS designation. Joy was the only certified director and became the club’s first director. As with the Unit 355 Northern Arizona Bridge Unit, the club was formed with by-laws recommended by American Contract Bridge League.

• Don and Joy also began teaching and directing on cruise ships. They have conducted approximately 26 cruises working as teachers and directors.

• In October, 2007, the Sedona Oak Creek Community Bridge Club purchased Peter Wahl’s club to go to a five day cycle from a 3 day club. The club was renamed the Sedona Bridge Center. Several of the Board of Directors , including Don, Joy, Bob Nord and Beverly Attwood decided to retire from the board at this time.

• Joy has continued to be a full time Director at the club. She is now the principle “wage earner” for the family. Although Don is no longer active on the Board of Directors, he is always there to assist Joy and others setting up tables, etc.. Don’s leadership is always ever present as he participates in advising the new club and board members on an ongoing basis.

Many people who visit and play at the Sedona Bridge Center comment on the friendliness of our club. This is not something that happened overnight. The “seeds were sown” back in the early 1990’s when Don and Joy MacIlraith stepped up and took over the bridge club after its previous owner operator passed away. They practiced “zero tolerance” long before it was a mandate. We owe Don and Joy our many thanks for all the work they did 20 years ago which continue to show benefits today.

Don & Joy MacIlraith