Monday, September 30, 2013 

Joyce Kearney - Remembering a Friend and Fellow Bigfoot Researcher

(all photos by Tom Yamarone
except where noted)

by Tom Yamarone
September 23, 2013

Joyce Kearney left us last week – unexpectedly passing away much to the dismay and shock of her family and friends. She was very independent, kind, caring, intelligent and passionate about many things. One of her passions was sasquatch/bigfoot research. For the past seven years, I have known Joyce as a close friend and fellow bigfoot enthusiast. We spoke often, met at least once a month and collaborated on some historic bigfoot conferences. Our friendship spanned a fraction of her life – a good part; the last part and it was interesting and inspiring in our mutual interest in bigfoot.

Joyce with Chester

Joyce Marie Kearney was born in San Francisco, California on April 2, 1943.  She passed away last Friday, September 20, 2013. She leaves behind two sisters, Barbara and Susan, her brother Joe, two daughters, Jane and Margaret, and several nieces and nephews. Joyce attended Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California and graduated in 1961. She was married, started a family and was later divorced. She raised her two daughters while working as a registered nurse in the emergency room and intensive care unit at the VA hospitals in Palo Alto and San Francisco, CA.

February 1968 cover of Argosy

Her interest in the bigfoot phenomenon began when she saw the Argosy magazine article with the bigfoot photographs in the February 1968 edition. The photographs were from the Patterson-Gimlin Film taken the previous fall in Bluff Creek, California.  These still images from the historic film put a face to the subject that had previously been large plaster footprints.  They spurred a desire in her to search for these creatures in the wilds of California – and ultimately, throughout the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, Texas and Ohio.  Joyce recalled asking her husband, who was an avid deer hunter, to take the family camping in the Bluff Creek area that very summer of 1968.  He reluctantly agreed and there they were with other bigfoot enthusiasts driving the dirt roads in that drainage off California Highway 96 and the Klamath River.

She described the harrowing nature of the roads in those mountains – the sheer drops from the narrow dirt roads. She commented on the distinct lack of guardrails and the rugged terrain that was being actively logged at that time. She tells of being along Bluff Creek and how the film had inspired others to come out in search of bigfoots that summer.  The family did not have a sighting on that trip but did have an incident that left a lasting impression on Joyce. She recalls being at the creek with her husband and the kids were playing nearby. Suddenly, an overwhelming feeling of peril, dread and danger overcame her.  She quickly got her kids back to the vehicle and urged her husband to “get the heck out of here.” Later we discussed the possibility of an infrasound “attack” and she thought it possible.  And in her typical balanced analysis, she also said it may have been an unseen predator nearby. Whatever the case, her maternal instincts kicked in and it stood out as a most unusual incident on their first trip to the wilds of bigfoot country in Northern California. Later trips would take them to the Yolla Bolly Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest and up to the Lake Shasta area.

Patterson-Gimlin film subject

She was an advocate of the Patterson-Gimlin Film and we talked at length about that subject we both agreed upon intensely. Joyce told me of the effect the film had upon bigfoot research and those interested in sasquatch. People could finally put a face to the mysterious bigfoot creatures who had been leaving tracks and were responsible for anecdotal sighting reports over the last 40 years. This landmark film was the apex event in the modern era of bigfoot evidence. We realize these creatures have co-existed with us for thousands of years as evidenced by Native North American totems, masks, stories and sighting reports. But in 1968, the general public finally got a glimpse of that female bigfoot in the Patterson-Gimlin Film. It ignited a renewed interest in the subject and started Joyce on her sasquatch odyssey.

We both attended the Willow Creek International Bigfoot Symposium in September 2003 – but did not make our acquaintance. It was a landmark event that brought together the key figures in bigfoot research and offered current analyses and presentations as well.  Over the course of 3 days, bigfoot enthusiasts were able to discuss, listen and share with the likes of John Green, Bob Gimlin, Al Hodgson and others from that “first generation” of bigfoot researchers. The 2nd and 3rd generations were also present – too many to name – and this event was a watershed moment in bigfoot research. This was my start and from here the subject continued to be considered in an intelligent fashion. Academics and wildlife biologists were now involved in the research. Documentation and the need for possible evidence to be collected properly were stressed. It was something that Joyce and I had in common. Our paths would cross 3 years later at a small bigfoot museum in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

October 2006 - our paths cross at bigfoot meeting

Joyce came and shared her knowledge and experience in the subject. She had been actively pursuing bigfoot sightings and interviewing eyewitnesses in the 1970s. She became friends with Barbara Wasson, a psychologist and researcher from Oregon and in doing so networked with Rene Dahinden and John Green. Joyce and Barbara conducted extensive research throughout the Pacific Northwest. Joyce is mentioned in John Green’s epic book, “Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us.”  She wasn’t searching for the spotlight – just more evidence of their existence. 

Joyce's D'sonoqua mask -
she had a passion for Native bigfoot lore

She was also in touch with bigfoot groups that emerged in the 1990s such as Ray Crowe’s Western Bigfoot Society in Portland, Oregon and the International Society of Cryptozoology. She subscribed to their newsletters and was actively corresponding with researchers during this time. Joyce also subscribed to the Bigfoot Times newsletter and corresponded frequently with the editor, Daniel Perez.
She traveled to Oregon to attend a gathering the Western Bigfoot Society organized at Longbow near Sweet Home, Oregon. This group camping afforded Joyce the chance to network with sasquatch researchers from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. 

Joyce was an early benefactor and generous supporter of the British Columbia Cryptozoology Society (BCCS).  She respected the methodical approach the group took with regards to possible sasquatch evidence and the way they carefully vetted sighting reports.  I spoke with John Kirk the other night sharing our memories of Joyce and they held her in the highest regard. It was not until John Green’s Tribute in April 2011 that she was able to meet these researchers. John expressed how grateful they were to finally meet her in person after the many years she supported the BCCS.  Joyce subscribed to their quarterly newsletter and eagerly awaited each edition.

Joyce in  Willow Creek, CA for the P-G Film 40th Annivsary
- "It's GREAT to be here!"

After meeting Joyce in 2006, our friendship grew, as we would see each other on a monthly basis. Later we would meet now and then for lunch.  In the fall of 2007, a crisis arose when a scheduled celebratory conference for the P-G Film as cancelled. We were determined to fill the void with an anniversary event. In 6 weeks’ time, we organized the Patterson-Gimlin Film 40th Anniversary Celebration in Willow Creek, California on October 20, 2007.  It worked out that only 60 people attended the day of talks, a lunch and bigfoot songs, but they were a die-hard, dedicated group. It was an historic weekend and all who attended bonded as friends and colleagues. 

Group photo from the anniversary celebration

Joyce generously sponsored other events and continued to attend conferences and gatherings. She also spent time in the mountains with her beloved hound dog, Chester. She had several areas where she concentrated her field research including the Mt. San Jacinto wilderness in southern California and the Castle Crags area near Lake Shasta, California.  She also explored areas the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and around Willow Creek and Blue Lake, California searching for evidence. 

Joyce at the Ohio Bigfoot Conference, May 2010
- in her front row reserved seat
(Joyce in yellow shirt)

The Ohio Bigfoot Conference became an annual destination for Joyce each spring. She would drive nearly 5,000 miles roundtrip to attend the event. She made many friends and acquaintances on the east coast as a result. In 2010, she invited Bob Gimlin and me to travel to the Ohio Bigfoot Conference as her guests. It was an historic moment for many back east to have the opportunity to meet Bob and hear him recount the events surrounding the P-G Film. Don Keating, the organizer of this long-running conference, was eternally grateful. This type of quiet support and generosity – for the good of others – exemplified who Joyce was.

Bob Gimlin speaking at the Ohio Bigfoot Conference
- thanks to Joyce Kearney

She also sponsored the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up in May 2009 and the Sasquatch Summit: a Tribute to John Green in April 2011. Joyce attended both events as well and having her there was such a great addition. She did not need to be in the spotlight or at the podium to have an impact. She came, she participated and shared her insights and, in that manner, contributed to the greater cause.

With Joyce at the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up
May 2009

Bob Gimlin surrounded by the attendees
at Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up
(photo by Rick Andrews)

Joyce with good friend Diane Stocking
at Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up

Joyce and John Green share some sasquatch wisdom
- at the Sasquatch Summit in Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.

In the last year and a half, Joyce was instrumental in starting a monthly meeting in the S.F. Bay Area. Along with our friend Jerry Hein, we organized and sponsored these meetings at a pizza parlor in San Mateo, California. A small but enthusiastic group has enjoyed discussing bigfoot and we'll continue to do in her memory.

The Bay Area Bigfoot group shows off the results
of a footprint casting workshop.
April 2012

A group photo from our March 2013 meeting. 

Her involvement in and passion for the bigfoot/sasquatch subject is what we will remember about Joyce. Obviously, her generous, kind and caring personality had a much wider impression on her family, friends and neighbors. She lived in San Francisco, California for many years. She was a neighborhood fixture along with her constant companion, Chester. Her neighborhood friends recalled that she also did many things for them and for the local community.   

Joyce leaves a void that will not be filled. She will be sorely missed and we will be consoled only by our memories and recollections of our interactions with this unique individual…our friend and fellow bigfoot enthusiast. 

Bluff Creek vista - bigfoot country.
Here her spirit will reside.

 Sunday, September 29, 2013 

Joyce Kearney - Obituary

Joyce Kearney in Willow Creek, Calfornia for the 40th Anniversary
of the Patterson-Gimlin Film (photo by Tom Yamarone)

Obituary:   Joyce Marie Kearney

Joyce Kearney, of San Francisco, California, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Friday, September 20, 2013. She was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Jane Maienschein. She leaves her sister and husband, Barbara and Dwight Munro, her sister and husband, Sue Maienschein and Steven Ferguson, and her brother, Joe as well as her daughter and husband, Jane and Mike Murphy, and her daughter and husband, Margaret Kearney and husband Jeff.

Joyce was born April 2, 1943 in Cincinnati, Ohio and was raised in various towns throughout the U.S. as the family moved following her father’s career with J.C. Penney. The family moved to San Mateo, California when she was 14 years old.  She attended Hillsdale High School and graduated in 1961.  She obtained her nursing degree from San Jose State University and worked for over 20 years in the V.A. Hospitals in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California.  She was retired and enjoyed spending time in pursuit of her life-long passion investigating and researching bigfoot. Her interest took her far and wide traveling throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Ohio. She will be remembered for her kind, caring and generous soul and vivacious spirit. 


Note: Family and friends gathered yesterday to remember Joyce and it was a wonderful celebration of her life.  I will share some thoughts on a dear friend in the coming days. Please keep her and her family and friends in your thoughts. Thank you! 

Welcome Back, My Friends...

It was a great summer - hope you all enjoyed a healthy and fun one!

I have not been keeping up with the posts - so, let's see if I can get back on the horse.

Quick summary since the trip to Arcata for the premiere of "Willow Creek", the bigfoot movie by Bobcat Goldthwait.

June 2013

Little Jack Yamarone
"Hey, you talking to ME?!!"

It was graduation season around here.  No bigfoot outings to report on.  We had fun with the family in town and did some traveling, too.

July 2013

Weird Al in concert at the fairgrounds in Pleasanton!
(photo copyright Tom Yamarone)
the Oregon Coast was as beautiful as ever...Heceta Head Lighthouse
The Astoria Column towers above the Columbia River.

 I went out on two bigfoot expeditions in July - one to the Bluff Creek area with Terry S., his daughter and a friend and Brian H. from Redding.  It was extremely hot and we did not have any overt bigfoot activity. However, one morning near camp at 5:15 a.m., there was a very impressive wood knock. A singular event and I did capture it on audio. I'll try and post that later.

I then returned home and went right back out into the Sierras with Kathy, Bob, Jerry, Daniel, Johnny, David and others.  It was a great outing but nothing to report in terms of bigfoot activity, sign or evidence.

More on the summer to come.  It ended with a Labor Day camping trip back to Bluff Creek...and then
tragedy struck last week and we lost a very dear friend in bigfooting. Joyce Kearney passed away unexpectedly.

Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up Tom Yamarone - Songs For A Bigfoot World