If you moved into the Academy Hill neighborhood of Stratford, it was not long before Joyce Slater and her late husband Richard extended their embrace. For my family, they greeted us with a bottle of champagne with two flutes to accompany it while the moving van was still here. For another neighbor, she prepared and served dinner in her beautiful dining room for the newcomers and their four young children, the night they moved in.
Joyce and Richard lived life according to their own beliefs. They bucked the concept that if you hadn’t been born and bred to this New England neighborhood, you were not a “real” Stratfordite. They warmly welcomed everyone of whatever background who moved here and reached out to befriend and learn something about them. For years they lovingly sponsored Rotary exchange students from around the world, and extended their friendship to others from Australia, Germany, India, Africa, the Carribean and beyond. One young man from Mexico has sent his children and several members of his extended family over the years to experience a long visit to the U.S. through the warmth and guidance of the Slater’s home. The memories of all these young people and friends still enliven this town.
Their legendary restaurant, Dick’s Magic Kitchen, proved Samuel Johnson’s declaration that “there is nothing that has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced than a good inn or restaurant.” Joyce’s many years as the food service manager for the Trumbull schools brought a high level of culinary accomplishment to those fortunate schoolchildren.
Joyce never neglected the aspects of life that lift us out of our toil. She was devoted to the arts, travel, and the art of restoring and furnishing their magnificent 1690 home. Joyce’s pioneering devotion to fine cuisine was an inspiration to me. She was an accomplished cook in the American, French and Italian traditions, and as a world traveler, she brought back sumptuous and exotic dishes to their restaurant and to the palate of anyone fortunate enough to be invited to their table.
Joyce loved all the arts, but especially the theater and was a devoted supporter of the Shakespeare Theater and Square One Theater. Joyce has asked that memorial contributions be made to either the Stratford Historical Society or Square One Theater, utterly fitting recipients of memorial donations honoring her life.