Joyce Annette Francis was born July 3, 1936 to Jim and Velda Francis in Van Bueren Arkansas. JoAnn, along with her brothers, grew up as a preacher’s kid, learning to play the piano at a very early age. Throughout her life, she shared that talent as the piano player for several churches and a few country bands. She never learned to read music, but she could tear up a piano.
In her late teens, JoAnn met a young man named James. She often told the story about when he asked her to marry him. “I told him, I didn’t think I loved him. He told me he had enough love for both of us.” They were married June 2, 1953 in Goldsmith, TX and were together until James’ death in 1989. Their marriage produced four children along the way; Joyce Marie, James Edward, Sandra Lynn, and Jackie Lynette. Being an oil field family, they found themselves living all over, including Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
No matter where they ended up, one thing was constant; JoAnn’s love for people. On top of her own children, many of their friends found the motherly love they needed in her. She loved unconditionally, welcoming in all who came to her door. This was a trait her grandchildren’s friends knew as well. Granny, as she came to be known, always had an open door and a hot meal for those needing it. She was, among other things, a fantastic cook. She could whip up any number of wonderful dishes from scratch. It was a real loss to her when her failing eyesight put an end to her cooking. Just like her open arms and welcoming home, her cooking was an expression of love.
Granny was a phenomenal woman who impacted so many lives. From her competition video game marathons to sneaking drinks from her grandson’s spiked punch, she was always entertaining. She loved to laugh and could brighten a room. She was also a fighter, surviving years of health complications, the death of her husband, and most recently the death of her daughter, Sandra. Yet as Eccleciastes says, there is a time for everything. On April 13th her time to rest came. The world is a little dimmer and our lives a little less joyous, but we smile knowing she is no longer in pain but soaring among the stars.
JoAnn is survived by her children; Joyce Willhelm of Howe, James (Janet) Willhelm of Odessa, Jackie (Tony) McDonald of Eastland. Grandchildren; James (Micheal) Willhelm-Waid of Odessa, George Morales of Eastland, Kelly (Jeff) Willhelm of Odessa, Morgan (Spencer) Tatarko of Colorado. Brothers; Bob Francis of Whittier, CA, Jim (Lovelle) Francis of Commanche, and Paul Francis of Tucson, AZ. She is also survived by numerous extended family and countless adopted family.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, April 22, at the Edwards Funeral Home Chapel in Eastland, TX.
Edwards Funeral Home of Eastland is entrusted with arrangements.