Life Story / Obituary
Feisty, stubborn, and quick witted, Joyce Mae Meldrum lived a life rich in family. With deep contentment in the simple things and gift for animals, Joyce’s fiery spirit, quick one liners, and love of music endeared her to those who knew her best. A wonderful wife, devoted mother, and delightful grandmother, Joyce’s beautiful legacy of conscious care for others and joy in the simple things will be proudly celebrated by those who knew her best. Loved by many, Joyce will be long remembered and deeply missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Grand Rapids home of Erwin and Loveda Stevens as they welcomed their youngest child, Joyce into their hearts and home on February 12th.
Joyce’s earliest years were spent in the home of her parents and the company of her four older siblings. Their father worked as a barber while their mother helped provide for the family by working in a factory. While Joyce was still quite young, her parents divorced. Despite her best efforts, Joyce’s mother was unable to adequately provide of all of her children, and so Joyce and her oldest sibling went to live with their grandparents, Charles and Florence Muller in Rockford.
A good student, Joyce liked going to school and always got good grades. She attended Rockford Elementary and then graduated from Rockford High in 1951. During her teens, Joyce enjoyed spending time swimming at the family cottage where she often spent her summers. She was also an accomplished self-taught pianist. She could pick up any song by ear.
Shortly after high school, Joyce had the good fortune of meeting George Van Dyke. The two began dating and quickly realized their hearts were destined for one another. The happy couple married on July 2, 1952. Shortly after they were married, George was killed in the Korean War. Unfortunately, Joyce only learned of George’s death through a friend who was also in the service and who had written her a letter three months after George died. Three more months passed before Joyce finally received official notice from the military.
In spite of the heartache that Joyce had to endure in the face of being a widow, she did the hard work of putting one foot in front of the other and continued to choose life. After some time Joyce was blessed to be introduced to Lyle Meldrum by her sister in law Charlotte. Joyce fondly recalled through the years seeing Lyle walk across the restaurant to the table where they were sitting. She was instantly taken with his thin build and wonderful smile, and she knew he was the man she would marry.
Joyce and Lyle married on July 2, 1954, and honeymooned on Big Star Lake. They then made their home on the North side of Grand Rapids. Not long after they settled in the Tornado that would take down Standale, tore through their yard. Joyce long remembered looking out the house and noticing how still everything was, except the garage that was swaying back and forth.
To provide for their growing family which soon included their sons, Vince and Scott, Lyle worked at Lescoa and then Gordon Manufacturing. Joyce worked at Lear Siegler until 1967. The family settled into their forever home at 1817 Garfield St. NW where Joyce felt easily contented to be a home body. While she encouraged the boys to spend as much time as possible outdoors, while they were generally gone all day at neighboring Richmond park, Joyce concentrated on cleaning and cooking for her family. She enjoyed cooking and had a propensity for canned peas, lima beans, and beets. Despite her prowess in the kitchen, many suppers found Vince sitting at the table, long after the meal was over until he finished his veggies.
Joyce continued to play piano but refused to play if anyone was watching. Lyle and the boys, along with other family members over the years, would often hide behind a tree in the yard where she couldn’t see them so that they could soak up her talents. Joyce liked to have a radio on at all times and usually had the dial set to her favorite channel, 100.5 the River. Thursday nights were centered around Root Beer Floats and watching the Red Skelton show while Sundays were all about homemade pizza. The family spent several weeks each summer at a rental cabin at Blue Lake. Here Joyce would swim nearly all day, often just floating on her back and gazing up at the sky.
With a natural affinity for animals of all kinds, Joyce was known in her family as the “animal whisperer.” Whether tending to the family pets including “Thor” the German Shepherd and a stray cat, “Rome,” or feeding the neighborhood birds, squirrels, turkeys, geese, ducks, and deer, Joyce’s affinity and good will had even the most skittish of creatures befriended in no time at all.
Never one to demand the spotlight, Joyce valued the simple things in life. She enjoyed popcorn with cheese, green tea, plain cheese burgers, and the comforts of home. She never learned to drive and wasn’t big on making decisions. It once took her ten years to find the right couch! A typical redhead, Joyce possessed a fiery spirit that often resulted in either a stubborn stand or fierce one liners.
Without a doubt, family was Joyce’s greatest treasure. She was very close to her boys and loved nothing more than to simply spend time in their good company. When the grandchildren arrived, Joyce’s joy grew abundantly. She loved to sit on the back deck of her home and feed the animals with the kids or take them to Amish restaurants. Feeding the geese and ducks at Riverside and Richmond Parks was also a sure joy. Joyce and Lyle enjoyed many a bicycle ride together as well as a traveling down to visit Scott in Florida.
The shock and sorrow that came with Scott’s death in the mid 90’s forever changed Joyce. The pain was so great that some might say it is what caused her dementia. For a long time, she did her best to cover her memory lapses up, and Lyle did too, but over time it became undeniable. Vince, granddaughter Lacey, and Joyce’s friend Anne Larson unhesitatingly stepped in to lend their hands in any way they could. After Lyle’s death in 2012, the three increased their efforts to help Joyce stay in the family home. Lacey often shopped, cooked, and cleaned, promising to watch a movie with Grandma as soon as the tasks were done. Joyce relished in watching old movies. Though Vince could never convince her to get cable so that she could watch all the movies she wanted to, she did have life long subscriptions to People Magazine and Reader’s Digest. Joyce loved to cut out jokes and health columns and then send them to her family. It was her special tradition to send the grandkids birthday cards with a special cut out joke inside.
As the dementia worsened, it became necessary for Joyce to move to the supportive community of Green Acres in Allendale. From October of 2016 until her final day, Joyce flourished in the excellent care she received at Green Acres. It was in the comforts of this lovely community that Joyce died on September 4, 2017.
In the face of the loss of Joyce’s steadfast presence, may it afford deep comfort to know that with each critter we feed, long float we take in the lake, joke we read, and old movie we enjoy, we are living the best of Joyce’s legacy in our own lives. In this way, her fiery spirit will continue warm our hearts and inspire a smile for many years to come.
MELDRUM – Mrs. Joyce M. Meldrum aged 84, of Grand Rapids, passed away on September 4, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Lyle Meldrum; son, Scott Meldrum; daughter-in-law, Leah Meldrum; and siblings, Jack Stevens, Dolly (Larry) Beckwith and Ron Stevens. Joyce is survived by her son, Vince Meldrum; grandchildren, Lacey (Terry) Woodwyk, Cody (Jessica) Meldrum, Lindsay (Jared) Meacham, Lauren (Chris) Morse, and Jose Guillian; great-grandchildren, Seth, Dylan, Lyric, Zane, and Leah (expected arrival of November); brother, Chuck Stevens; sisters-in-law, Charlotte Stevens and June Stevens; many nieces and nephews; and special friend, Anne Larson. A special thank you to Green Acres Assisted Living for loving care and compassion shown to Joyce during her stay. The Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Friday, September 8, 2017, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends may visit with her family from 5-8 PM on Thursday and one hour prior to the service on Friday at the funeral home. Contributions in her memory may be made to West Michigan Humane Society. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Joyce’s lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook.