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Kindred Spirits: A Dedication to Theater

An interview with Julia Nelson about her mom, Joan Peacock

Joan Peacock Julia Nelson 400X400

One of our most enthusiastic subscribers, Joan Peacock, sadly passed away in October 2019. PCS was lucky to be one of several local arts organizations that was surprised by a generous bequest from Joan. We are so grateful for the lasting legacy Joan has given us, and so touched by her dedication to PCS and Portland’s arts scene. We’re honored to carry on her legacy through her generous gift. 

A hearty thank you to Joan’s daughter Julia Nelson, who is also one of our cherished patrons. Julia took a moment to share the inspiring story of Joan’s passion for theater.

What led Joan to become such a passionate and dedicated supporter of the Portland arts scene?

Joan always appreciated live performance — the talent of the actors and musicians, the behind-the-scenes efforts to orchestrate an entertaining and professional production, and the thrill of watching the performance unfold in real time. She found a sense of community in the Portland arts scene. She enjoyed the people who attended and considered them kindred spirits. Attending the theater became a staple in her life, something that not only entertained her but also gave her a sense of purpose. She understood the rigors of the production and the challenges faced by arts organizations, so it was important for her to give back in order to help sustain their value in the community.

As you and your siblings were growing up, did Joan find ways to share her love of the performing arts with you? 

As we were growing up, Joan was a single mother who struggled to provide financially for her children. Attending the theater was not something that became a regular part of her life until her children were grown and out on their own. However, over the last 20 years or so, my husband and I made regular trips from the Seattle area to Portland to attend shows with her. 

We would always make a full and fun day of it — eating out at a restaurant before or after the show, taking pictures together, talking about the performances, and looking forward to the next one. We would often spend a long weekend with Joan in Portland, so we could see more than one show. It was some of the best times we ever spent with Joan. This is partly why she contributed financially to the arts community, even though she had children and grandchildren of her own who are in financial need.

Do you recall if Joan had any favorite PCS productions?

PCS was always one of Joan’s favorite venues, and together we watched many performances there. She particularly liked musicals, with talented vocalists and a pit orchestra. When we attended PCS, we always knew the production would be high-quality, entertaining, and that the music would resonate well after the show ended.

What advice do you think Joan might want to share with other arts lovers? 

Joan gave the bulk of her estate to Portland theaters. She was never wealthy, but she lived frugally for many years. She would always say, “Enjoy what you love while you still have time.” She prioritized her time in the arts community and took advantage of the live performances in the area. She believed there was value in learning how to perform on stage that would translate to other parts of life. And she wanted to help aspiring performers pursue their dreams. She would tell other arts lovers to follow their heart and give what they can to help this community live on and thrive.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Julia for so generously sharing these memories. And we offer our deepest condolences to Julia and the rest of Joan’s family, and all who knew and loved her. Joan’s dedication will continue to inspire us all, and her lasting gift will provide so many others in our community with the ability to experience the artform that meant so much to her.

If you are interested in learning how to provide long-lasting support for PCS, explore our Planned Giving options or contact us at .

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