Joy Dunkelman, 90; noted community volunteer

Joy Dunkelman

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Joy Tenenbaum Rice Dunkelman, named a 1989 Woman of Achievement by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Suburban Journals, died Sunday, Dec. 20, at age 90. She was a longtime leader and volunteer supporter of numerous community causes, including the Senior Olympics, Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center.

Mrs. Dunkelman was born in Little Rock, Ark., on Nov. 14, 1925, the only daughter of Beany and Harry Tenenbaum. Her family moved to St. Louis when she was a child.  She graduated from Clayton High School and Mills College in Oakland, Calif. 

After World War II, she married Charles Rice.  

“They built a wonderful life together until he died in 1980,” a family member said.  

She was married to Melville Dunkelman from 1987 until his death in 2013.

“Joy was a loyal friend and was always involved in the St. Louis community,” said Virginia Rice, one of her two daughters. 

Mrs. Dunkelman’s other daughter, Callie Craumer, said, “My mother had a creative mind and was drawn to causes where she felt that she could make a significant difference.  One of her gifts was her ability to persuade others to join her in these causes, and along the way, she made many new friends.”

Among those many friends is Harris Frank, a past president or chairman of Jewish Federation, the JCC, Congregation Shaare Emeth and St. Louis Senior Olympics.   

“Joy was one of a handful of truly inspirational leaders in both the Jewish and general communities of St. Louis,” he said. “She never tried to draw attention to herself.  She was motivated to assure that the needs of the community were met, rather than personal glory.  She will be sorely missed.”

Mrs. Dunkelman helped found the St. Louis Senior Olympics of the local JCC and the National Senior Olympics. She was a former special events coordinator of the JCC.  Her Women of Achievement Award in 1989 was in recognition of her accomplishments in senior adult services.

Motivated by husband Charles Rice’s illness, she founded the Wellness Community, now the Cancer Support Community and was an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society.  She was a longstanding member of the board of the Jewish Hospital and continued on the board when the facility became Barnes-Jewish.  She had a particular fondness for the Jewish Hospital School of Nursing.

Mrs. Dunkelman is survived by her children, Virginia Rice (Scott Schirmer) and Callie Craumer (Ernie); four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.  She is also survived by a sister-in-law, Gretchen Tenenbaum, and a cousin, Ellen Kallman. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband Charles Rice and second husband Melville Dunkelman, and her brother, L. Jay Tenenbaum. 

Her daughters said they are grateful for “the love and support of her special friend, Debbie Turner, and all the friends who made Joy’s life joyous.”

In accordance with her wishes, there will be no service.  She wanted her friends to remember her at her best and with a contribution, if desired, to a fund set up in memory of Joy and Charles. Checks should be sent to the Joy and Charles Rice Fund for Nursing Scholarships, c/o BJC Foundation, 1001 Highlands Place Drive West, St. Louis, Mo., 63110.