A LOVING APPRECIATION
JOAN C. BATURA
Joan Elizabeth Cummings Batura, whose elegance and grace, coupled with her upbeat charm and good-natured humor guided a family and touched a world with her love and appreciation of God’s wondrous and mysterious ways, departed for Heaven at sunset on January 12, 2012. She was 80.
The cause of death was congestive heart failure. Despite a series of health challenges besetting her in recent years, she never stopped smiling, never stopped learning (she took seminary classes at 75!), never stopped thanking people and praising God for a wonderful life.
Joan Cummings was born on January 4, 1932, the youngest daughter of John and Gertrude Cummings of Jersey City, New Jersey. Her father was a lanky Irish bookkeeper who enjoyed baseball and the art of telling a good and humorous story. Her mother was a devoted homemaker who poured herself into the lives of her three beautiful girls. A happy childhood was marked by a love of books, movies and music, as well as “dallying the day away” with her sisters and friends in city parks and soda shops.
The valedictorian of her high school class, Joan chose to attend secretarial school, where she excelled. For the next seven years she assisted the President and CEO of the Equitable Life Insurance Company in New York City. She was also a gifted writer of biography and Christian inspiration who contributed to various publications throughout her long life.
Life, she believed, though a profound mystery, was by no means a matter of random, senseless circumstance, and certainly not something entirely outside of a person’s control. She believed in God’s sovereignty, but she would often say that we become like that which we love (Matthew 6:21). As a girl she fell in love with her Lord, faithfully attending St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church with her family. Her faith was strengthened through the sacraments and her voracious appetite for Christian literature.
And so it should come as no surprise that it was this foundational first love of her Lord and Savior Jesus that ultimately led to her meeting the lodestar of her life, her beloved Jimmy.
It was en route to Sunday Mass on Memorial Day weekend, May 30, 1948, at the Culvermere summer resort on Culver Lake, New Jersey, that Joan and Jim Batura first met. Later that night at dinner, Jim asked Joan for a first dance. “How old are you?” she asked him. “Seventeen” came the nervous reply. “And you?” “Seventeen, as well” she responded meekly. But by the last light of the day, consumed by guilt, they both admitted to having embellished their respective ages, each by a single year. A seven year courtship commenced, inclusive of Jim’s two-year Army draft commitment.
Joan and Jim Batura were married on May 28, 1955. Had it been composed by Hollywood screenwriters, critics would have deemed the next 57 years of love and devotion as too implausible a script to stage. Throughout the past six decades they have poured themselves into each other, their five children and their extended families.
For the first 54 years of marriage they made their home on Long Island, in Baldwin, New York. In addition to her family responsibilities, Joan was a Eucharistic minister and regularly visited and prayed with the sick. She was also a member of St. Christopher’s Choir, the Rosary Altar Society, the Women’s Advance Club and a dear and loving friend to countless people. She was a famous note writer whose encouraging and empathetic words lifted spirits and helped point people to look up to the ultimate Physician for the source of true healing of soul.
In 2009 Jim and Joan relocated from Baldwin to Amarillo, Texas, where their daughter Marie and her family reside. They purchased a beautiful cottage at the Craig Retirement Community and quickly made dozens of wonderful new friends. Upon arrival to town they became active members of St. Hyacinth’s Catholic Church, where they joined the choir and became Eucharistic ministers.
A feisty and spunky redhead, Joan enjoyed many distinctive loves of life. She was happiest when sitting in the warm sunshine, preferably by the ocean, the pool’s edge or in a comfortable chair on their porch, and most especially with her Jimmy by her side. Maine was a favorite family vacation destination. Upon Jim’s retirement from Pfizer, together they traveled the world from one continent to another, all along marveling at God’s creation and counting themselves blessed beyond words. Joan loved talking and visiting with family and friends in person or on the phone, studying her bible, reading books, clipping articles from the Wall Street Journal, perusing catalogs for gifts for her grandchildren, listening to the radio, researching nutrition and vitamins and eating her favorite Dannon coffee yogurt, which she bought by the case.
To have met Joan Batura was to have met a smiling saint. Deeply inquisitive, she was a wildly interesting woman because she was first interested in you. That spirit of infinite curiosity in people and their lives remained a constant even to the last hour of her earthly journey as she inquired of her caregiver’s wellbeing.
Because of her faith in Jesus Christ, she saw in her earthly end a true beginning, as described in the words of her favorite hymn:
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation; And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart! Then I shall bow in humble adoration And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!
Joan Batura passed into glory with a literal prayer on her lips and her beloved Jimmy’s hand in hers. Joan’s is a life to celebrate and a shining example on how to live well and how to finish strong.
In addition to being survived by her husband of 57 years, James F. Batura of Amarillo, she leaves a loving legacy of so many who owe everything to her: Sons Jamie (Mary), Tommy (Rita), John (Robyn), Marie Batura Hinojosa (Omar) and Paul (Julie); and twelve grandchildren, Christopher, James, Tim, Matt, Erin, Katie, Fran, Katrina, Isabella, Hank, Riley and Little Will.
Rosary will be said at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, in Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors Ivy Chapel, 2800 Paramount Blvd. Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, in St. Hyacinth Catholic Church with the Rev. Jim Schmitmeyer as celebrant. Burial will be in Llano Cemetery.