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Joyce Louise Lema-Runyan January 21, 1928 - February 18, 2021

January 21, 1928 – February 18, 2021

Joyce Louise Lema-Runyan was born on January 21, 1928, in Denver Colorado to John and Blanche Francis.  She moved to Turlock when she was two months old.  She was raised in the Chatom Mountain View area and attended Mountain View and Mitchell schools.  Growing up she met a neighbor boy (Joe Lema) who had a small dairy.  After her Junior year of high school, they got married at the Catholic church on June 24, 1945.  From this union they had four children, Anthony (Tony), Josephine, June and Joseph.  They eventually sold the dairy and moved to Denair.  They then bought a milk route where they picked up milk in 10 gal cans from dairies around the Turlock/Denair area and hauled the milk to various creameries in Newman, Atwater, Gustine, Hughson and Turlock.  Joyce helped out by driving the truck on occasion while Joe got some needed rest.  She also helped with local 4-H program as a cooking leader.  She became interested in civic affairs and one year served as President of the Eagles Auxiliary.  She helped man the Little League concession stand when her boys played.  She loved singing and could pick up and play any instrument within a couple of weeks.  In 1959 she decided to go back to school and get her high school diploma at Denair High School. She was employed by the United States postal service for 17 years.  After 26 years, her and Joe decided to go their separate ways.

Later she met Harvey Runyan, a building contractor in Denair/Turlock area.  They finally married in December, 2005.  They had 39 years together.  They did a lot of traveling together and loved going to the East coast and Disney World in Florida.  They loved going to Crescent City where they would fish for salmon in the ocean.  Over the years, they lived in Denver, Colorado, two locations in Oregon and several places in Turlock.

After Harvey passed in 2013, she moved to Covenant Living in Turlock to live out her remaining years.  Her favorite hobby was making home-made Christmas, Birthday, Valentine, and any other holiday cards for family and residents at Covenant.

Joyce was predeceased in death by John and Blanche Francis (mother and father) her two husbands (Joe & Harvey), Son Joseph Lema, Daughter Josephine Hake, Josephine Lema, Margaret Homan (sisters-in-law), John Francis Jr (brother), Betty Vieira (sister), brothers-in-law Frank Vieira, Lawrence Costa, Bob Hurst, Jim Lackey, brothers-in-law Mike Hannaford, Mike Young, Doug Hake and a great grandson.  She is survived by Anthony (Tony) Lema, son (Melody) and June Hannaford (daughter), Sisters Ila Costa, Annabelle Hurst, Rosie Lackey, (all of Turlock), Margaret Vieira (North Carolina) and 6 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and 10 great great grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.  A viewing is scheduled from 4 – 7 pm on March 1 and a final viewing on March 2nd from 9:30 am-10:30 am at Allen Mortuary followed by proceeding to Turlock Memorial Park for burial.

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  1. Laura says

    I remember “Miss Joyce” as a dear friend while working as a Concierge at what is now known as Covenant Living. I always looked forward to her coming up to my desk for help with something, we usually parted with a hug. She was the sweetest little lady & I was blessed to have been a recipient of her special handmade birthday cards. I am grateful she is now at rest.
    My condolences to the family & friends she left behind.

  2. Velma Davis says

    I remember Joyce from many years ago from Mitchell School and Turlock High. She was a good friend and I was always happy to see her smiling face.. She was my first friend to marry at a young age.
    Joyce was very athletic and when we had Gym together she could throw a baseball like a boy instead of like a girl. She was not a tall girl but i remember when we tried out the military obstacle course at the high school after school she could do it like a trooper.
    i loved to hear her sing in the high School auditorium when they had a special talent show at assembly. She had a great voice and always got an enthusiastic ovation. My favorite song she sang was “Alla en Rancho Grande ” as she swirled her colorful skirt.
    Joyce was also a poetess and probably some of you have read her “Fishing For Salmon” poem.
    I admired her as some one who was not afraid to ‘go for it”. like a mail route on the street, when women didn’t do that as far as I knew. She was quite a gal and now she is at rest and no longer tired and nor ill.

  3. Melody Lema says

    My memory of my mother-in-law, Joyce, was how she always would look so nice and put together. I had met Joyce and her husband Joe even before I met their oldest son, Tony, to whom I have been married to for 47 years. I called Joyce Mom from the moment Tony and I were together, and consider myself lucky that she was my Mom-in-law. I remember them coming into the Manjo’s on Geer to eat lunch. They would bring their oldest granddaughter, Jeanie, with them. I miss them both, along with my parents, Joe and Margaret Furtado. But they are in a better place now, without the pain and aches of their last days. I imagine them sitting around my dining room table, both Dads teasing me about my cooking, the Moms discussing their friends. The whole time the grandkids are running up for them to “open this, close that, help me, and on and on” I am sure those that went before are bringing them up to date, sopas are being served, along with pots of hot coffee. And they are watching over us, and their precious grand and great-grandchildren. Thank you for the memories mom, say hey to everyone there. We love you!

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