Covey was the kind of high achiever tech companies love to recruit. She got her degree at Fresno State University in two years, passed the CPA exam at 19 and was a chief financial officer in Silicon Valley at 33. And that was only the start.
Covey was a bright, energetic person that Amazon recognized could turn an Internet start-up into a thriving commerce site. She was Amazon's chief financial officer from 1996-2000.
"She was smart, she was visionary, she knew the numbers, and she was telling the story about growth and transformation of the industry that I'm not sure will happen again," former Amazon colleague Adam Medros said.
When she started, Amazon had 180,000 customers. When she left four years later, the number was in the millions. She retired, taking some of her Amazon IPO shares, to fund environmental causes. She served as a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The NRDC issued a statement Thursday, "The entire NRDC family is deeply saddened by the tragic news that our beloved Trustee, Joy Covey, died in an accident yesterday in California. Joy was passionate about the oceans and wild places, and was an intrepid traveler and true adventurer. Our hearts go out to Joy's son and her many friends and family."
According to the California Highway Patrol, Covey was riding downhill on Skyline Boulevard when she crashed into a Mazda minivan Wednesday afternoon. The minivan, driven by a 22-year-old Fremont man, was heading uphill and made a left turn onto Elk Tree Road directly in front of Covey. Covey crashed into the right side of the van and was pronounced dead at the scene. CHP officials say the driver is cooperating with their investigation.
Covey grew up in nearby San Mateo, where she dropped out of San Mateo High School, earned her GED, and then worked her way through Fresno State as a waitress. Dual degrees at Harvard in law and business followed.
She served on the board at JetBlue airways for three years. Founder Joel Peterson said, "During JetBlue's formative years, she brought thoughtfulness, warmth and her adventurous energy to the board."
Friends and colleagues took to social media sites to share their memories of Covey. Michelle D. wrote on Facebook, "Sometimes in your life you cross paths with someone who strikes you as truly inspirational, a role model. For me that was Joy Covey. I am truly saddened to learn of her passing."