Joyce D. Hartsfield
September 1925 – August 2018
Heaven is much sweeter having welcomed Joyce home after an amazing life and a relatively brief illness.
Joyce was born in 1925 to Ronald O. and Daisy Jarvis in Kettering, England. She and her sister, Myrle, lived in the caring home of their grandparents, Jimmy and Laura Jarvis. Their aunt, Berta Chisholm, was also an important part of that home.
During World War II, Joyce and a friend had taken an older woman they knew to an afternoon movie. When they returned home in the dark, they failed to pull the blackout shades down before turning on the lights in the home. Two American soldiers patrolling the town, in the flight path to London, rushed into the home and accused the women of trying to get the whole town killed. One of the soldiers, “Jimmy” Hartsfield, noticed that Joyce Jarvis was quite pretty and changed his tone a bit. He asked her to meet him for a movie in the days ahead. Both of them were sneaking in a back way, to see if the other was really going to show up, and ran into each other. The short courtship began like that and on December 1, 1942, Joyce Daisy Jarvis allowed James Benjamin Hartsfield the privilege of being her husband.
Their first son, Terry Owen, was born in England on Joyce’s 18th birthday. When he was three, it was time for “Jimmy” to return stateside and to his home where everyone knew him as Ben. The plan was for Ben, Joyce – six months pregnant, and Terry to sail on the Queen Mary to New York. Terry became ill and required hospitalization for a while. By the time he was well enough to travel, Ben’s leave was up so very pregnant Joyce traveled across the Atlantic with her three year old son into New York. She came through Ellis Island and took a train from New York to Marianna, Florida to live with Ben’s family whom she had never met. In October of that year, Ben and Joyce welcomed their first daughter, Sheryl Virginia. Six years later, in 1952, James Benjamin, Jr., joined the family as the baby – a title he held for 10 years.
Ben’s military service took them to several bases including Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and Okinawa, Japan. When his time in the U.S. Army was done, Joyce and Ben settled in Marianna/Greenwood, Florida with their three children. The family of five was firmly settled until their youngest, James, was 10. Early in 1962, Joyce began to feel like she had a virus and Ben recognized it as the same “virus” she had with each of the other three kids. Mary came along in November of that year unseating James as the baby of the family.
Joyce succeeded at everything she set her mind to. She learned to cook from Ben’s mother and became an expert at Southern cuisine. Many remember Joyce for her biscuits, cheese straws and gravy.
She was an active member of Greenwood Baptist Church for many years and enjoyed teaching Vacation Bible School for several.
For many years, Joyce was active with a group of women in Greenwood for a Prayer Breakfast. They met in each other’s homes and prayed for the needs in their community.
She also enjoyed many outings with her Friendship Club. They would get together periodically to get away for lunch and to just spend time together.
Joyce was a skilled seamstress. For a while, she worked at a sewing factory and later sewed privately from home. Her work clothed cheerleaders, wedding parties and several very well-dressed ladies who wanted a signature wardrobe.
Joyce and Ben lived a simple life. Their needs were met and their wants were few. Their budget never allowed for extravagant travel – especially not trips to England where Joyce had left her family behind. A neighbor in Florida traveled to England in the early 80’s and called on Joyce’s father. The neighbor returned with the unfortunate news that Dad had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain cancer and was terminally ill. When Joyce shared the matter as a prayer request in her home church, Greenwood Baptist, several members of the congregation decided it would be their honor to bless Joyce with the finances to visit her dad before his passing. Joyce was forever touched by their generosity which enabled her to spend time reminiscing with her father before he was unable to do so. That visit also reestablished relationships with her sister and a very dear cousin. She traveled again to England in the late 90’s to attend a family wedding.
Joyce didn’t drive until the early 90’s. Ben’s heart disease began to take its toll and Joyce saw clearly that she was about to be stranded with no way to get around. That just wouldn’t do. Ben and Sheryl helped her learn to drive and once she got her license, there was no stopping her – concrete medians and very significant bushes couldn’t even stop her at times!
1995 proved a very difficult year for Joyce. In February, she lost her youngest son, James. She stayed by his side in his San Francisco home until the very end. Many of the family who had gathered in love and support had to return to their homes and work before his actual passing. Joyce insisted she would not leave but she was hesitant to drive in San Francisco. The family came together to help her map out a route using the transit system. Joyce was hesitant to try it thinking she wouldn’t be able to navigate. Terry asked if she was the same woman who had traveled across an ocean and down an entire continent six months pregnant and with a toddler in tow but somehow thought she now couldn’t navigate 10 city blocks on her own. That was all it took to bolster her confidence and navigate she did. Heartbreaking as it was to lose a child, Joyce stayed right by his side.
In October of the same year, Ben passed away leaving Joyce alone in Greenwood. At his passing, they were just shy of 53 years of marriage. The years were not always easy. There were hard times and heartaches. The bond and the commitment remained and they were together, for better or for worse, for a lifetime of love.
Joyce remained an active volunteer with Jackson Hospital in Marianna for many years. She loved working with the many other dedicated volunteers and cherished the friendships they developed.
For years and years, Joyce took pride in maintaining her British citizenship. As the years went on, she began to shy away from any discussion about politics because she didn’t want anyone to know she didn’t vote. She attended a 4th of July event in Tallahassee in 1995 where 13 new citizens took their oath in front of a crowd of hundreds. Joyce decided she wanted to be on that platform the next year. Sheryl helped her make flash cards and she studied diligently to take the test. Mary drove her to Jacksonville early one morning to finally take the test. Mary settled in to read a book while she waited but, in no time at all, Joyce came floating across the lobby of this large building. She was glowing and giddy with excitement. The test proctor asked for Joyce’s green card. Joyce handed her the only card she had ever had in the more than 40 years she had lived in the United States. The proctor asked how long she had lived here and Joyce told her since 1946. The proctor responded by saying she was not going to make Joyce take the test. Joyce’s reply was classic – ‘You’ve got to ask me a few questions. I’ve studied too hard!’ On July 4th, 1996, Joyce was among 13 sworn in as US citizens at Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee, Florida. She was featured on the front page, above the fold, of the Tallahassee Democrat that day. Her first official act as a US citizen was to become a registered voter. She then took great pride in completing her ballot for each election.
Joyce accompanied her youngest daughter in a cross-country move riding in a Ryder truck with Mary and her cat. The three of them had a great adventure but Joyce told Mary all along that she would not be moving to California. About a year after Mary’s move, Joyce changed her mind and began another chapter of her life by selling her home in Greenwood and moving to California.
She lived at first in Oakdale while she waited for an opening in a senior’s apartment community. In perfect timing, just as Mary learned she was pregnant, Joyce’s apartment opened up. She settled into her apartment and began visiting churches to find a church home as well. For several years, she attended Bethel Church (One Church, Scenic) in Modesto. Joyce enjoyed the fellowship in the senior’s group and the home group gatherings too.
After living in her apartment for a little while, Joyce began sharing that she had met someone special and had begun spending time with him. It wasn’t too long before she and Joe Pimentel were married. They moved to Riverbank to share Mary’s home when it was built and spent just over seven years together before Joe passed. Joe and Joyce had lots of fun together – he was a great navigator and she was the driver. They found their own church together and enjoyed attending Riverbank Assembly of God. Joyce served on the board for several years in her eighties, enjoyed working in the food ministry for several years and was always ready to receive prayer requests on the prayer line.
Joyce was so joyful, full of life and appreciated simple things. She was fiercely independent. She was determined to keep her mind active and alert. Part of doing so included weekly trips to the library where she would usually check out about five books to keep her busy through the next week. Her all-time favorite book was The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. It was one that she kept and read over and over. Joyce also liked word searches and exploring the internet – most recently on her iPad. Many hours were spent on the patio reading, dozing and watching for the hummingbirds to visit. Patio and naptime were usually shared over the past three years with Honey and Pino snuggled up with their grandma.
Joyce began most every day at home in the same way – a cup of coffee from the kitchen, opening her front blinds, reading her Bible and daily devotion and then prayer and meditation with her Lord. An English muffin with orange marmalade followed later in the morning but not until after all the working neighbors in the court had left for their day’s work and Joyce had prayed blessings over each of them as they passed her window.
What else did Joyce love? She loved her immediate and extended families – her son, Terry, and his wife, Cindy (San Jose and St. Augustine, FL) and their two daughters Rachel Witmer (Nathaniel) and Rebecca; her daughter, Sheryl, and her husband, Gene Horney (Riverview, FL), and their children Gene Jr. (Kim), Tammi Alderman (Tom), Christy Cowart (David); and her daughter Mary (Riverbank, CA) and her daughter, Jamie as well as Jamie’s brother, Richie (Cortney) and her sister, Heather. Her sisters, Myrle Cannell (Peter) and Diana Panton (Tom) reside in the UK as do their families. Joyce was predeceased by her husbands, James Benjamin Hartsfield, Sr. and Joe Pimentel; her son, James Benjamin Hartsfield, Jr. and her grandson, Russell. She is also loved and will be missed by great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, sisters- and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends.
Joyce was kind, gentle, authentic and lovely. She was gracious and forgiving. She was a treasure. Those who have known her have truly been blessed. Her goal was to make it to her heavenly home. Again, she has succeeded.
Memorial Service will be at Riverbank Assembly of God, Sept. 15 at 2:00 pm.
Please share your memories and condolences at this website.