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Image of Joyce Loeb, resident at Touchmark in the West Hills

Women's History Month Feature: Joyce Loeb


In honor of Women's History Month, Touchmark embarks on a three-year initiative to identify and recognize exceptional female residents who defied the odds in their professional and personal lives to pursue opportunities that were historically off-limits for women. Please allow us to introduce Joyce Loeb, our second resident feature in this series.

Please tell us about your personal and professional background.

My first job was as an Art and English teacher for high school. It was the logical thing. I thought I was going to be an architect, but at the University of California, Berkeley, at the time I was there, women were not particularly welcome in the Architecture department, or in a lot of other things. So, the next best thing, because I wasn’t going to become a secretary, was I decided I would get a teaching credential because I could always use that. And I really loved teaching high school kids.

After I’d done that for a while and gotten married, I continued teaching until I became pregnant with our first child, and then we had our second. When they were both in school full-time, I went back to school to get my master’s, and I discovered they had a pre-architecture program at Portland State University, so I switched from getting a master’s in Fine Arts and went into the Architecture program. It was a two-year program then. I decided this was a way to get started without going down to the University of Oregon without my family.

So I did the two years, and while I was working on the second year, I got a call from a friend of mine who said her husband was an architect and he’s partnered up with another person and they are looking for someone to do interiors for them.

She said, “You have the background in art, plus your two years in architecture, you understand space planning. You should interview and see if it’s a good fit.”

And it was. I worked with them for close to 10 years doing commercial and residential work.

Then my workload got to be so expansive that I went out on my own. I did interiors for about 30 years. I really loved doing it. It was a wonderful fit because it was art. It was very satisfying. It was fun. Having the opportunity to change someone’s life in a positive way was so satisfying and made me happy.

What sparked your initial interest in art and architecture?

The art goes back to before I can remember. I always wanted to draw and paint. It was so exciting to me. My parents sent me to the museum art school. And the architecture part was just sort of in there. I had several friends who were very fine architects in this community, and they were doing very fine things. I thought, “Look how happy this makes people.”

Architecture had always been a “men’s thing,” and I thought, “Why?” Women have great eyes and ideas.

There were a few women who were in school for architecture when I was, but not many.

What advice would you give to women pursuing barrier-breaking careers today?

Try to be as positive as you can about what you’re intending to do. Be clear with how important it is to you, and how much you’d like to work together with others, and respect each other’s abilities to do things.

But, if you do have to back down, do it in a tough way so they know they’re not getting the better of you.

What activities/hobbies/opportunities do you participate in now?

I’m hoping to start painting again after three years of having to focus on other things. For years, I painted in oils, and I had several one-person shows in the Portland area and almost all my work would sell. Then I took some watercolor classes, so now I have that set up in my second bedroom and I’m wanting to get back into it again.

Being here at Touchmark, there are many people I’ve actually known for years, and it’s wonderful renewing those friendships. They’re so kind. I’ve received wonderful help from the professional team at Touchmark.

Thank you to Joyce for sharing her story with us. Stay tuned for our next installment, number three of four for 2020.