Joyceline Elaine Kriesmer
Joyce, beloved identical twin sister to surviving best friend and roommate Jackie Larsen Voskamp, passed away peacefully on November 19, 2023 in the presence of her entire family, following complications of a stroke eight weeks earlier.
"The Girls," as they were known to so many, were born in Los Angeles to parents Roy and Pauline Haug. Their life took a slow but dramatic turn in 1938 when their father accepted a position to work as a driller for ARAMCO, the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia. The girls were nine years old and their brother was 12, as their mother managed to raise the children with a husband who was more than 8,000 miles away during the throes of the Great Depression. Roy had "home leave" every two years, so by necessity, Pauline became immensely resourceful, a developed trait that the children would embrace throughout their long lives.
At the outbreak of WWII, their father was sent back to the States. He agreed to return to Arabia as an employee if he could bring his family, which he did in 1946. Following an arduous three week trip that involved the girls' first airplane flight, their first ship experience in a converted Navy vessel where they slept in hammocks, a train ride from Alexandria to Cairo where they waited five days for the weekly company flight with TWA, they finally arrived in steamy Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on September 17th. Their brother had preceded them by two weeks as a hired employee. The girls had just graduated from high school and were embarking on a lifelong adventure that would not only define, but refine the rest of their lives.
In 1951, Joyce met and married a young ARAMCO engineer named John Kriesmer from Fair Lawn, NJ. Jackie had already met and married her ARAMCO engineer husband, George Larsen, from the San Francisco Bay Area. They, along with their brother, Roy Jr. (who married their best friend, Mary, from high school), raised their nine children, each born and raised in Arabia. It was an extraordinary life of world travels for everyone, including overseas boarding schools for most of the cousins. Joyce and John called Saudi Arabia their home for 35 years, retiring to Houston for 17 years before moving to Escondido to be close to the family.
If Joyce would like to be remembered for anything, it might be for her quiet commitment to this country of her birth. She and husband John were committed donors to Wounded Warriors, but it was the events of 9/11 that opened her heart to the dedication of the brave firefighters in NYC. She decided to anonymously bake her many special cookie recipes for the local Emerald Heights (Escondido) firemen she called her "boys," which she did on the 11th of every month for the next 10 years. They eventually insisted on learning her name, then honoring her and John at their new fire station by hosting and proudly cooking a Teriyaki dinner for the woman they had dubbed "The Cookie Lady."
After both Joyce and Jackie were widowed, they declared that they had "come into this world together," so they might as well "go out together." They artfully blended their worldly goods and moved into a beautiful independent living apartment at The Vi at La Jolla Village, where they thoroughly enjoyed spending nearly seven years as best friends and grateful roommates. They remained physically and socially active, playing bridge and being the dynamic matriarchs of the rest of the family.
They received no small amount of notoriety when they were twice interviewed by Union Tribune staff writer Pam Kragen and appeared on the front page of the paper on April 3rd of 2020, waving enthusiastically from their balcony along with many other residents at The Vi during one of the many early rallies held during the lockdown. That article lead to being interviewed by the TV show Inside Edition, as well as by a public radio station in the Bay Area that wondered how people were making it through the isolation. They had each other and never felt isolated, was their honest response.
Perhaps their greatest lifetime honor though was meeting three Saudi kings - first as 17 year-olds in 1947, as invited 79 year-olds guests of the kingdom in 2008, then as 86 year-olds to Washington, DC in 2015. A large framed gift of those royal photographic memories was sent by ARAMCO to each of the girls and has remained a cherished family treasure.
Joyce is survived by her devoted 94-year-old sister Jackie, her 97-year-old brother, Roy (Buddy) Haug of Turlock, CA, her three loving, pickleball enthusiast children - Cindy Kriesmer Carr of Cardiff, CA, Pam Kriesmer Graves (Peter) of Crosslake, MN, and Larry Kriesmer (Carol) of Rancho Santa Fe, CA. "Mimi" is also survived by her five adoring grandchildren and their spouses - Jessica Graves Elder (Mark), Emily Graves Spring (Jesse), Carrie Carr Reese (Matt), Zak Kriesmer (Katherine), Kenzie Kriesmer Johnson (Austin) and together, their 8 children, as well as 6 dear nephews - Greg and Brad Larsen; Jeff, Kevin, Rod and Wes Haug.
A champagne and cookie celebration of Joyce's life will be held sometime around the holidays when the extended family can gather to enjoy each other and her famous Peppermint Cream cookies. If you're inspired to bake, please enjoy her recipe from 1970, which is also fabulous straight from the freezer. And if you happen to have an opportunity to offer a hug to a courageous firefighter, please do so in Joyce's memory. Our world was a much happier place for having known this inimitable woman we proudly called Mom, Mimi, Auntie Joyce and of course, Sister.
Twins, 91, Riding Out Quarantine Together with Daily Pep Rallies