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Life Story / Obituary
All who came to know and love Joyce Stambaugh would agree she filled their lives with loving kindness and she inspired many through her servant’s heart. Independent by nature, Joyce was a hard working, determined woman who was always up for an adventure. She lived life fully and completely at every opportunity, and she did so with ways all her own. Through her strong willed nature, Joyce persevered through the ups and downs that came her way, yet most important to her was her family who brought her the greatest joy. Gone but never to be forgotten, the memory of Joyce remains in the hearts of many.
The year 1938 overflowed with mixed blessings in America. While the U.S made great economic strides after the hardships of the Great Depression, an unwelcome recession found unemployment rates once again reaching drastic levels. The struggles of this generation found relief from everyday worries enjoying the sounds of jazz. Superman made his debut in the comic strips, and movie greats filled the big screen. Amidst these changing times, Joyce’s story began when she was born to Albert and Helen Glaza in Bad Axe, Michigan on September 3, 1938. It might have actually been September 5, but no one knows for sure because her birth certificate had the wrong date! The third of four children, Joyce spent her early childhood years running around her great-grandparent’s farm and spending time with her childhood friends. She was an incredibly social person even as a child.
In her teens, Joyce and her family moved to Detroit, Michigan, a city Joyce came to love. It was there that she met James Gower, the father of her beloved son, Michael. While in Detroit, Joyce loved attending the theater and shopping at Hudson’s Department Store, where she gained a keen eye for fashion. That love of fashion led to an early career as a buyer for high-end boutiques in downtown Detroit. Joyce eventually met and became a personal buyer for Diana Ross and the Supremes just as they were making their start in the music industry.
Detroit during this time was not only known as the home of Motown, but as the center of the American automobile industry. Joyce was a part of that as well, frequently trading in her fine clothing for a jumpsuit so she could race cars in Powder Puff Derby events! She loved taking her son, Michael to Boblo Island and Cedar Point amusement parks, located in Ontario, Canada and the state of Ohio, respectively, where they loved riding roller coasters together and spending time on the beaches.
In the seventies, Joyce relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan where she earned her degree in accounting at Davenport College. She soon began working in the finance department for Herpolsheimer’s Department Store, and eventually became master controller for multiple stores owned by Allied Incorporated. While in Grand Rapids, Joyce developed a love for cooking. She was well known for her delicious Sicilian spaghetti and clams as well as her homemade chicken noodle soup. Joyce enjoyed a variety of cuisines and was always game to try a new ethnic restaurant or new recipe. She also loved gardening and reading, and she almost always had a book in her hand.
In the mid-eighties, Joyce reconnected with Bryce Stambaugh, a young man whom she had dated as a teenager, and the two married on January 24, 1986. Joyce moved back to Bad Axe with Bryce where she continued her gardening and cooking. She won many ribbons for her jams and flower arrangements at the Huron County Fair. Always ready for an adventure, Joyce pursued a new hobby and created the character, Buttons the Clown. As Buttons, Joyce enjoyed entertaining at children’s birthday parties and at church events. She was also well known for her ability to make elaborate balloon animals for the kids. Joyce also worked for the Farmer Jack’s grocery store chain where she was responsible for opening new stores throughout the region.
After her husband Bryce’s sudden passing in 2004, Joyce split her time between Bad Axe and Grand Rapids, which allowed her to spend time with her son, his wife, Leslie, and her beloved granddaughter, Helene. However, Joyce moved to Grand Rapids permanently following a complication from surgery when she was not expected to survive. But those who knew Joyce knew how strong-willed and determined she was, and she fought long and hard to regain her independence. She moved into Lincoln Square, an independent living retirement community where she thrived and lived a very full life. While at Lincoln Square, she became known to all as an outspoken advocate for her fellow residents and where she was actively involved in numerous social activities such as Wii bowling, Skip-Bo and Bingo tournaments. Joyce always looked forward to the casino trips sponsored by Lincoln Square, and she loved teaching and gathering her fellow residents together for fun times.
In addition to being an avid reader, Joyce loved to crochet items for others. Through her love for cooking, she loved watching cooking shows on television and would regale her son with tales of the recipes she’d seen. She enjoyed dining out with family and friends, and especially looked forward to her weekly dinner dates with her son. She loved visiting greenhouses in the spring and she so enjoyed spending time with her sister, Gloria where the two would frequent flea markets and craft fairs. She also loved spending time with her granddaughter, Helene who often took her to lunch, shopping at the mall, or to the bookstore. Joyce thrived at Lincoln Square and the last four years of her life were her happiest and healthiest.
The last three weeks of Joyce’s life were particularly special. While she was reluctant to travel far from home in later years, she asked to visit her sister, Gloria on the other side of the state. She spent a wonderful weekend visiting with her extended family and rooting for her favorite football team, the University of Michigan Wolverines. Her granddaughter Helene had also taken a job at Lincoln Square and the two established a daily routine of sharing a Coke after Helene’s shift ended each day. Thanksgiving was particularly special this year complete with a festive meal and lively game of Skip-Bo with Mike and his family.
With ways all her own, Joyce left an indelible impression on all who knew her. She loved serving others and was dedicated to her family. She added much to the lives of others, and through her independent and determined spirit, Joyce will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by many.
Joyce (Glaza) Stambaugh, age 78, of Grand Rapids, MI passed away on November 30, 2016, surrounded by her loving family at Meijer Heart Spectrum Health. Joyce is survived by her son, Michael (Leslie) Glaza and granddaughter, Helene Glaza (Jason) Beurkens, all of Grand Rapids; stepdaughter, Tammy Emus of Geneva, OH; stepson, Bryan (Kristen) Stambaugh of Virginia Beach, VA; step-grandchildren, Hunter Emus and Kyle and Megan Stambaugh; sister, Gloria McCullough of Almont, MI; several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. Joyce was preceded in death by her husband, Bryce Stambaugh; her sister, Angeline (Roger) LeFleur; and brother, Alger (Joyce) Glaza. Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 10, 2016, 3:00 PM at the Alt and Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW. Friends may visit with Joyce’s family beginning at 2:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place in Bad Axe, MI at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Our Hope Association of Grand Rapids. Please visit Joyce's personal web page to share a favorite memory or photo of her, to leave a condolence and to sign her online guestbook at www.lifestorynet.com.