Joyce Bush Whalen

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Aug. 28, 1950 — Feb. 20, 2018

Joyce Deanne Bush Whalen, 67, died on Feb. 20, 2018, at her home in Kissimmee, Florida. Joyce was born Aug. 28, 1950, in Windom, Minnesota to Hertha (Timm) and Addis Bush. She grew up in Lake Park and graduated from Harris-Lake Park in 1968.

Joyce was always proud to tell others about the early Iowa girls' athletic program since few states at that time had equal programs for girls and boys. Joyce received her undergraduate degree in physical education at the University of Iowa in 1972 and a master's degree as a media specialist from the University of Northern Iowa in 2004. She taught in Jesup and then joined the Peace Corps in 1974 and taught in Arica, Chile. She returned to the U.S. and taught and coached in Heron Lake, Minnesota, where she met her husband of 39 years, Ralph Whalen.

Joyce and Ralph taught at the Riyadh International Community School in Saudi Arabia from 1979-82 and returned to the USA where their children, Ryah and Jacob, were born. They returned overseas in 1989 to teach at Taipei American School in Taiwan for 24 years and International School Bangkok in Thailand for two years. Joyce retired from teaching in 2008 when she battled her first bout of cancer.

Joyce, Ralph and their kids loved to travel and explore the world. Hosting many friends in their home for dinners and parties was an important part of their family life, which created a second "family" for those so far away from home. Joyce most enjoyed being a mom and creating family traditions and memories. Many will remember her hearty laugh. A lifelong hobby was quilting.

She is survived by her husband, Ralph Whalen; daughter, Ryah (Max de Groen) Whalen of Boston; son, Jacob (Allison) Whalen of Chicago; grandchildren, Madeleine Joyce de Groen, Anton de Groen, and Archer Whalen; five siblings, Robert (Patricia) Bush of N. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Judith Burns of Montevideo, Minnesota, Warren (Linda) Bush of Wall Lake, Richard Bush of Columbia, Missouri and Janell Bush of Tomah, Wisconsin; 36 nieces and nephews; 30 great nieces and nephews and many in-laws and friends from the U.S. and around the world. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Bruce (Janice) Bush.

There will be three Celebrations of Life for Joyce:  10 a.m. Saturday, April 21 at The Palms, 1055 San Clemente Ave. in Solivita, Poinciana, Florida; 2 p.m.  Sunday,  April 29 at the LS Library, Taipei American School in Taipei, Taiwan  and 10 a.m. Saturday, June 16, at Hamilton’s on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines.

Those who would like to write a story about Joyce to be included in a book for her grandchildren should email Ralph Whalen at bushwhalen@hotmailcom. 

Memorial contributions in Joyce's memory can be made payable to Mayo Clinic and sent to Department of Development, Attention: Pediatric Proton Therapy Program Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. Condolences may be expressed online at