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Entries in Joy Matthiessen (1)


Celebrating History Center's Executive Director Joy Matthiessen


Exec. Dir. Joy Matthiessen (Photo Credit: Trib Local)Former Des Plaines History Center Executive Director Joy Matthiessen died peacefully while at rest in the early morning hours of August 3, following an eight-year battle with cancer. During those years, Joy continued working at the History Center and contributed to larger community events such as the Independence Day activities, the Taste of Des Plaines, the Des Plaines Holiday Lighting Ceremony, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and Fall Fest. 

A Chicago native, Joy graduated from Roosevelt University as a history major and later enrolled in the Historical Administration Program at Eastern Illinois University, where she earned an M.A. degree.  Joy began working as Director at what was then known as the Des Plaines Historical Museum, located in the Kinder House at 789 Pearson Street.  During the last 10 years, Joy worked diligently with the Board of Trustees and the City of Des Plaines to acquire the neighboring building at 781 Pearson Street.  In 2001, the museum began moving offices, exhibits, archives and public programming space into the building, which opened in 2002 as part of the newly-named Des Plaines History Center.  

Throughout the years, Joy was involved in museum and historical organizations at the state and local level, including the Illinois Association of Museums, the Illinois Heritage Association, and North Eastern Illinois Historic Council, as well as coordinating History Center activities with community organizations, including the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Des Plaines City Streetscape and Holiday Decorating committees, and Kiwanis Club.  Joy also supported cooperative activities with the Des Plaines Public Library, the Senior Center, and the Jaycees. 

Joy’s work in her chosen field earned acknowledgment from her peers.  In 2000, Joy received the Professional of the Year award from the Illinois Association of Museums, and, in 2005, she was recognized as one of the recipients in the “Outstanding Graduate Alumni” program at Eastern Illinois University. 

History Center President Mike Skibbe stated, “We have lost a colleague and friend and the foremost expert in Des Plaines history. Joy will be missed.”

“Joy's twenty-two years in Des Plaines have made a lasting impact, not only on the History Center but on the larger community as well,” added Shari Caine, the new Director of the History Center.  “Joy’s work here won’t be forgotten.  We will continue strengthening the ties she made in the community.”

A public memorial service for Joy is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 9:45am, at the Prairie Lakes Community Center in Des Plaines.  Contact the Des Plaines History Center for more information, 847-391-5399.  Press Release From the Des Plaines History Center