Joyce Johnson was born on August 18th, 1930 in Twin Falls, Idaho to Efton R. Johnson and Mabel Walcott. She had an older sister, Lora. Her parents’ marriage dissolved around that time. Around 1935, the extended family moved to Stockton, California. Joyce’s maternal grandmother Wilhelmina “Minnie” Kaslander Walcott had a sister living nearby, and there was a large Dutch community in the area. Both the Kaslander and the Walcott families were descended from Dutch immigrants, and they made an effort to keep their culture alive. The Dutch language was still being spoken by the older members of the family when Joyce was a girl. They attended the Dutch Reform Church in Ripon. If you were Dutch, that’s where you went to church!
Mabel wound up getting a job in Sacramento, and left Joyce and Lora in the care of her parents, Herman and Minnie Walcott, in Stockton. Just before Joyce turned 7, her grandfather died. In 1943, after Lora married, Joyce, her grandmother and her unmarried aunt Jeanette Walcott, “Aunt Jean”, moved into a converted garage behind the house of Joyce’s uncle Bert Walcott.
One very bright spot in this story was her sister Lora buying her a used piano when she was 12, and Joyce started taking lessons. It turned out that Joyce had a gift. By the time she was 15, she was church organist at the Stockton Alliance Church, which she had started attending as a young teenager when invited by a friend. It was also at this church where she met her future husband, Bob Lemon.
She didn’t like him at first. But after dating a few of the other boys from church, she decided to give him a chance. Bob and Joyce were engaged in April and married October 10th, 1948. Her Uncle Bert Walcott walked her down the aisle, and his daughters Wilma and Jeanne Walcott were her attendants. The marriage would last for 68 years, until Bob’s death in 2016.
Two children were born from this happy marriage; Patrice (Patti) and Denise. The family lived in Stockton until 1965, when Bob’s work situation changed and they moved to Union City, and then Fremont. They attended Fremont Neighborhood Church, later renamed Cedar Blvd. Neighborhood Church in Newark, where Joyce continued to serve as church organist, and worked part time in the church office.
When Bob retired in 1988, they moved back to Stockton, where after attending a few other churches, they became members of Stockton Covenant Church. Joyce was always a very active member of the churches she attended, and she held a deep faith.
Bob and Joyce enjoyed trailer camping, and made many trips over the years. They went to Lassen National Park, the Seattle World’s Fair, annual church family camps and many family holiday weekend trips, among other outings. Also Joyce absolutely loved Hawaii, and they made a few trips there over the years. When Bob passed, and the house had to be cleared out, one of her disappointments was that her “Hawaiian Dresses” had been given away. She loved those dresses.
Joyce was an excellent cook, and was particularly known for her baking, and especially her pies. She would often bake two or three kinds for family gatherings, and the family joke is that anytime she asked her nephew Dennis what kind of pie he wanted, the answer was always “Yes”. She loved to feed people, and in generous portions. Her motto was, “The only way to make sure that you have enough food is to make sure that you have TOO MUCH food.” Heaven forbid that someone might want thirds and there wasn’t any left.
By the fall of 2015, Joyce had to be moved into a nursing facility. Bob faithfully visited her twice a day, every day, and her daughters and other family members visited as often as they could. Bob passed away on Christmas Eve in 2016, and the following year was very difficult for her. After a bout of pneumonia in December 2017, she never fully recovered and she passed away on January 14th, 2018.
We remember her love of family, her faith and devotion, her love of playing the piano and the organ, her love of cooking and of feeding the people she loved. Playing music and cooking great food were expressions of who she was. Family, faith, good food, music and love were very important components of her life, and what she will be remembered for.
Joyce is survived by daughters Patrice “Patti” Lemon (Eric Mitchell) and Denise (Terry) Hershberger, granddaughter Jennifer (Ryan) Hodge, grandsons Aaron (Jacqueline) Hawkins and Matthew (Amber) Hawkins, great grandsons Asa and Max Hawkins, and sister Lora Gadow and half-sister Robyn Carlson.
Graveside service will be held on Friday, January 26th at 2pm at Cherokee Memorial Park.
All are invited to a Celebration of Life on Saturday, January 27th at 2 pm at Stockton Covenant Church.