We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory
Joyce Powell, 92, longtime Ellensburg resident, passed away at the Kittitas Valley Hospital on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Viewing for family and friends will be Friday, July 8 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. at Johnston & Williams Funeral Home in Ellensburg. The funeral service will be conducted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at the Chestnut Street Baptist Church with burial to follow at the IOOF Cemetery.
Joyce was born on February 6, 1930 in Weleetka, Oklahoma. She is survived by her husband Dr. James Powell; children Deborah (Thomas) Dunn, Dan (Yukari) Powell, Scott (Lynda) Powell, and Jan Powell; sister DeAnna (Richard) Slavant; and an extended family of grandchildren and great- grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents Russell and Esther Courson, sister Shirley Duncan and brother Buddy Courson.
To Our Favorite Mom:
Mom, we love you. Life can get sweeter with age, but it doesn’t get easier. Now you’re gone, and your children miss you. Your grandchildren do, too, wishing that their babies – your great-grands – would’ve had more years to get to know you. After nearly 68 years of marriage, your husband is slowly learning to navigate life without you. While we rejoice that you are now healthy and free and in the arms of Jesus, we thought this would be a good time to tell you – in case you ever read this – what an amazing woman you are and what a legacy you’ve left us.
The following is but a glimpse of who you were and what you did in your 92 years on earth.
Adventurer. With a childhood spent caring for 3 younger siblings in rural Oklahoma, you were ready to take on the world. After college, you tackled New Orleans Baptist Seminary, working to pay your way while earning a Masters in Religious Education - the only degree option offered to women at the time.
You didn’t let that stop you. You became the first Youth and Education Director at First Baptist Church in Rolla, Missouri. Little did you know, you were now in Dad’s territory.
James knew you were in your office that day when he sat down at the church piano, his bass voice booming through the halls of the church. Maybe it was the minor tune that caught your attention:
I am a poor, wayfaring stranger; I’m travelin’ through this world of woe.
Yet there’s no sickness, toil, nor danger in that bright land to which I go…
Try as you might, James was hard to ignore. You met his car Betsy, and finally his parents. Thank goodness for Grandma and Grandpa. Your love and respect for them kept you around until eventually, in the summer of 1954, you took a risk and married their son, the man you’d originally called “nuts.”
As a couple, you traveled from Columbia, MO (medical school and baby #1), to the Panama Canal Zone (internship and baby #2), to Wichita, KS (1-year residency and baby #3), then eventually to Seattle for James’ 3-year residency and, for you, a substitute teaching stint on Mercer Island. (Decades later, you would reconnect with one of your students, artist Mark Berry.)
Meanwhile, though you and Dad had long felt called to overseas missions, the dream never materialized. As 30-somethings, you were considered ‘too old’ for such adventures. When a call for help came from a small Ellensburg practice called The Valley Clinic, you packed up the family and drove over the mountain pass to the town where you would spend the rest of your years (and have baby #4).
You followed Dad into whatever uncharted territory or adventures he went on, totally trusting. You weren’t an outdoorsy person, yet you took camping, hiking and backpacking trips in stride. You weren’t an athlete, yet you’d climb across a mountain slope in loose shale, right at Dad’s heels - no easy feat. And when Dad wanted to build a family cabin to spend even more time in the wilderness, you were right there with him.
Artist. You called yourself “the only non-musical member in a musical family,” then blessed us with your beautiful soprano voice, from the church choir to nighttime lullabies. The Welsh in you was drawn to songs in minor keys:
O Sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
Now scornfully surrounded, with thorns thine only crown…
You encouraged your children and husband to make music whenever and wherever they could. Piano, trombone, violin, clarinet – music became our family’s second language. And speaking of languages…
You were also an avid reader and writer. With a BA in English from Oklahoma Baptist University, your love for books and learning was contagious. Thanks to regular trips to the local library, we never lacked for stories. Thank you for that gift.
Encourager. As an adult, everywhere you went you tried to make a better place. Especially for children.
When joining a new church, your first act was to start or improve the nursery. Your church home in Ellensburg was no exception. As the third family to join Chestnut Street Baptist Church, the need for ‘all hands on deck’ was clear. No surprise, you rose to the challenge, launching the church nursery and preschool departments. Later you would lead a women’s group – made up mostly of women whose husbands preferred to stay at home – and then a class of cognitively challenged adults, which you named J.O.Y. for “Jesus, Others, You.”
When it came to your own children, it was always our needs before yours. We may not have realized it then, but we do now, and we’re incredibly grateful. From breakfast on the table to an after-school snack, we never had to wonder what to expect. We felt your love in the way you faithfully provided for us. When it came to dinners, casserole was your trick for feeding a passel of teenage boys, including our foster brother Rick. Later, we’d introduce our spouses and children to the wonders of tamale casserole, pimento cheese sandwiches, and fruit-juice freezer popsicles. Your culinary legacy lives on.
Beyond the home and kitchen, you regularly took us to appointments with dentists, dermatologists, and eye doctors – always in Yakima, since there were no practices in Ellensburg. Afterwards, we’d drive through the area’s extensive orchards, in search of fresh produce. Your sons recall the time you lit up after spotting a roadside sign and declared in a loud voice to no one in particular, ‘PICKLING CUCUMBERS!’ That phrase became a rallying cry for years to come. You never seemed to mind the teasing, in fact, laughing long and loud at others’ jokes, no matter how ridiculous, was just another way you intentionally encouraged the people around you.
We could go on – there are so many stories to tell about our favorite mom – but we know you are happily occupied in Heaven, reuniting with long-missed friends and family, embracing the once-stillborn now-living daughter you never knew, checking ‘meeting CS Lewis’ off your eternal bucket list, and of course being in the presence of Jesus - the One who loves you best.
We love you so, so much. We look forward to the day we’re all together again.
I’m going there to see my Father; I’m going there, no more to roam.
I’m only going over Jordan, I’m only going over home.
Memorial contributions in Joyce’s honor are suggested to the Care Net Pregnancy Center of Kittitas County, 111 E. Fourth Avenue in Ellensburg.
Johnston & Williams Funeral Home and Crematory of Ellensburg has been entrusted with caring for Mrs. Powell and her family. Online condolences may be left at www.johnston-williams.com