Joyce Elise Straus, (nee Lazowick), was born Oct. 1, 1935, in Philadelphia, to her parents Jacob and Frances. Joyce came to Las Vegas in 1961 with her husband of 56 years, the late Dr. Neil B. Straus, to raise their family.
In the early years, she found time to volunteer at the Mabel Hoggard School and the New Horizons Learning Center. Later, she worked as an art therapist at the Valley Hospital Psychiatric Care Unit, within The Center for Independent Living and The Center For Change. Her reach into the community impacted myriad non-profit organizations including Chabad, Jewish Federation, Temple Beth Sholom and the Hebrew Academy.
The "House of Straus" was featured in the media and was for decades a must see destination for tour operators and convention visitors. Her art is displayed in numerous buildings and homes throughout Las Vegas and beyond. In 1971, this impressive self-taught woman blossomed as an educator and artist navigating her talents through drawing, weaving, ceramics, batik, fabric design, clay, wood, metal, stone, silver, glass and numerous other media.
In 1976, she pioneered the School of Creative Thinking in her home studio beginning with a class of six students later evolving into a school of hundreds. Her philosophy of life and her voracious appetite for learning were ingredients that combined to produce a community of thoughtful students who loved their time with their inspirational and passionate teacher. Her legacy is carried on through the thousands of children and adults who learned from her and loved her. Her vivaciousness, warmth and humor were part and parcel of the joy with which she lived and loved her life. In her own words, "I have had a glorious life."