Joyce JoAnn (Ives) Williams, 87, of Sedalia, residing at Sylvia G. Thompson Residence, departed for her final destination, Heaven, in the early morning hours of December 10, 2023. Joyce arrived on this Earth during a blizzard, on January 14, 1936 in Laurens, Iowa, the youngest of 11 children born to Milo D. and Mayme S. (Thorson) Ives.
The family moved to a farm one mile south of Bahner, Missouri in 1941, when she was 5 years old. As the youngest, she was both doted on and picked on by all her older siblings and even some of their spouses. She would tell her stories about being picked on, but she was loved by all of them – and deep friendships formed as they all grew into adulthood, married and had children, and beyond the years of those children growing into adults and having families of their own.
Along with her two next-in-line brothers, Leonard and Burton, Joyce went to grade school at Pacific School in a one room schoolhouse one mile west of their house. Joyce attended and graduated from Cole Camp High School in 1953. After graduation, she moved to the “big city” of Sedalia and got her first job at a soda fountain counter inside Katz Drug Store in downtown Sedalia. She married Carl D. Freeman in 1955. Their marriage produced three children, all girls, Bambi Dee, Melody Kay, and Camie Lea. For a few years of their marriage, they lived near the Kansas City area. After their divorce in 1963, she returned to Sedalia to live and worked for a time at Sedalia Auto Parts Store in downtown Sedalia. A second marriage to James D. Lees of Sedalia in 1968 produced a son, James Scott. Joyce worked at Interstate Studios for many years and raised her 4 children mostly as a single parent. She pursued a better life for her and her children, by enrolling at State Fair Community College to earn her Secretarial Certificate. One proud moment for her was when she graduated in 1975, the same year that her oldest daughter Bambi graduated high school. This certificate gave her the opportunity to get a job with the Missouri Division of Employment where she worked until her retirement at age 62.
In her mid-50’s, Joyce became reacquainted with Johnny Mac Williams. Our families had previously known each other back in the 1960’s when their oldest girls were friends. He eventually became the Love of her Life and they were married on June 27, 1994 at The Little Brown Church in the Vale in Nashua, Iowa. Third times the charm--they had 13 wonderful years together of traveling around the world, taking road trips, going to flea markets all around the Midwest, and getting together to play cards and board games with friends and family. They kept in touch for many years with friends made during their extensive travels. After John’s death in 2007, Joyce continued her travels with her daughter Melody. Over the years, her travels took her to all 50 states in the United Sates and many other countries on six continents, and included a trip to China and mission trips to Brazil and El Salvador.
Faith and church were an important aspect of Joyce’s life. She was a long-time member of Immanuel United Church of Christ, at the corner of 4th & Vermont (“the church with the red door”), for more than 50 years, where she held many volunteer roles over the years. She was a Sunday School teacher, she served on various boards and committees, served as Council President, and she sang in the choir. Her last role there was that of lining up the liturgist and candle lighters for each Sunday, and she did it the old-fashioned way…with phone calls. She was also known for being an “inviter”--inviting everyone she met to come join her at her church. Joyce was also a member of the Church Women United for many, many years, and served as its President for a time. She also volunteered at the Open Door Service Center.
When her children were in Grade School, Joyce was a member of the PTA and PWP (Parents Without Partners). As the kids got older and the PWP group became smaller, the core group stayed in contact with each other and she called them “the Flaming Embers.” Those friendships were very dear to her. John and she continued hosting gatherings at their home on occasion to keep the bunch together. Joyce and John would also host neighborhood gatherings each year for hot cocoa and cookies around the holidays. Joyce was an active and lively member of the Red Hat Society and thoroughly enjoyed wearing the hats, dressing up, the companionship of the ladies, and the eating, of course. The Red Hatters knew how to have a good time and enjoy a good meal. And it was this special companionship along with her family, that helped sustain her after the loss of her husband, John, in 2007. She walked in the parades and had all the memorabilia, and countless red hats. She was also a member of the Pettis County Historical Society and would volunteer her time to work at the Historical Society Museum and out at the Bothwell Lodge.
Joyce was an avid collector of many things. She collected teapots, tea sets, small pitchers, carousel horses, John Wayne memorabilia, angels, rabbits, birds, bells, State thimbles and spoons, pretty dishes, red hat memorabilia, old calendars that she would leave up because she liked the pictures, and all things pink (including a pink toilet seat once “won” at a Williams family elephant gift exchange). Her house was filled with her treasures from around the world, from the flea markets, from gifts given by others because everyone knew she collected that particular thing. She liked to say “I collect things and the things collect dust.” Joyce also liked to collect quotes and sayings and interesting articles that she read, magazines and cut out newspaper articles, oh, and lists, lots of lists.
If you asked her “how are you doing?” her common response was “doing the best I can” and she’d give you a smile. Joyce’s last years of living, and dying, with Alzheimer’s were not what she expected to be doing in her last years on this earth, she had to live for the “moments” of understanding and some assurance from the friendly, maybe familiar, maybe not familiar, faces around her. But she did the best she could…moment by moment…all throughout her life.
She is survived by her brother Burton Ives and his wife Patricia of Sedalia, Missouri and sister-in-law Norene Brauer Ives of Cole Camp, MO. Norene and Joyce graduated high school together and were life- long friends. She is also survived by her daughters Bambi D Carnicle, Lincoln, NE; Melody K Freeman, Columbia, MO; Camie Freeman Pugsley and her husband Clayton, Tigard, OR; and her son J Scott Lees, Sedalia, MO. Her surviving step-children are: Becky & Brad Schmidt of Jefferson City, MO: Johnny and Pam Williams of Rushville, MO; Paul & Cyndi Williams of Smithton, MO; and Janie & Max Hedglin of Jefferson City, MO. She is also survived by her 3 grandchildren: Brad A Carnicle, Tara L Carnicle, and Nicholas Albro; 8 great grandchildren: Alexis, Brianna, Catina, Victor, Dominic, Daviana, Jaiana, and Aiden; and one great-great granddaughter, Hope, and another soon to be born on January 10th, all of Lincoln, NE.
With the many others who became family through her children’s step families and her marriage to John, Joyce was fondly called “Grandma Joyce” by 20 bonus grandchildren, 40 bonus great grandchildren, and 5 bonus great-great grandchildren. Joyce was also “Aunt Joyce” to a multitude of loving nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews. She loved to read story books to any child (or adult) willing to sit and listen, and often had a bottle of bubbles to entertain herself and visiting children.
She was preceded in death by her husband, John Williams, her parents Milo and Mayme Ives, her three sisters Marjorie (Wayne) Lund, June Ives (Elmo) Cox, and Dorothy (Bill) Green, an infant sister Marilyn Ives, and five brothers, Alan (Gladys) Ives, Jack Ives, Roger (Bea) Ives, Thomas (Dorothy Lorraine) Ives, and Leonard Ives, her step-daughter Raina Williams (Larry) Milks, and her step-great granddaughter Brooklynn Brielle Enos.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on December 29, 2023 at Heckert Funeral Home, Sedalia, MO with Pastor Brad Schmidt officiating. The family will receive visitors beginning at 9:30 a.m. We’d be tickled pink if you wear pink, red or purple to the service!
Inurnment will be at a later date at the Bethlehem Baptist Church Cemetery. Memorial contributions are suggested to Alzheimer's Association, Open Door Service Center in Sedalia or Immanual United Church of Christ in Sedalia.