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Life Story / Obituary
With a warm smile and loving spirit, Joyce Lucille Peterson lived a life rich in family, faith, and friendship. Joyce was generous and kind, gracious and grateful, and possessed a gift for making friends everywhere she went. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Joyce will long be remembered and so very missed.
Joyce was born to Wilbert and Saima Niemisto on April 20, 1938, in Washington, D.C. The oldest of four children, Joyce was a loving big sister to her younger siblings, Jim, Enid, and Rodney. The family moved to Detroit when Joyce was young. During her teen years her family joined the Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit.
As a participant in the high school church youth group, Joyce met her future husband, James Peterson. The young couple began dating and their commitment remained strong while Jim served in the U.S. Army, as well as completing his undergraduate degree at Michigan State University.
Joyce and Jim married on September 10, 1960, at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit. The newlyweds began their 57 years of marriage with a honeymoon to the upper peninsula of Michigan before settling into an apartment in Detroit.
Joyce worked as a secretary for Ford Motor Company until she and Jim became parents and her role shifted to full-time mother and homemaker. They first welcomed Pam, then Karole, and when Greg arrived their family was complete. Jim's work required a great deal of travel, so Joyce grew to be very independent and confident in parenting alone.
While they enjoyed living with family and friends in the Detroit area, Jim’s work brought the family to St. Louis, MO for several years before returning back home. In their retirement years they moved to Muskegon MI, where they enjoyed living close to Lake Michigan and making memories with grandkids. With strong ties to the Covenant Church, Jim and Joyce knew their next home would be in Grand Rapids, MI when Covenant Village of the Great Lakes was built. In this community they enjoyed their final years surrounded by life-long friends and family. Joyce served on several boards, volunteered her time at Second Blessings, and joined a treasured group of friends who were great prayer warriors for their country, families, friends and community.
A loving, generous and protective mother, Joyce was always willing to give her time and talents in service and support of her children and community. Over the years, she worked in various positions in local schools, including a Para-professional at Walled Lake Schools, and as a high school secretary in St. Louis, MO. Joyce was also one of the secretaries for her own congregation at Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills, MI. Over the years, Joyce was an active volunteer in her church as a Sunday School teacher, high school youth group counselor, in Covenant Women, and Ladies Circles. Joyce held leadership roles with the school PTA, and Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts.
The family enjoyed annual summer trips to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp. Jim's work also afforded Joyce the opportunity to join him on several trips, including to South America and Hawaii. Their love of travel also took them to Alaska, California, Australia, New Zeeland, Germany, Great Britain and Sweden - adventures they were able to share with close friends. A very memorable trip for Joyce and Jim was taking a Caribbean cruise with their children and grandchildren to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
An unwavering fan of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Pistons, and Michigan State University, Joyce enjoyed watching games with Jim and Greg. As season ticket holders for the Pistons, they cheered on their team together through good and bad seasons. Whenever possible, Joyce enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s sporting events, choir concerts and dance recitals. Although Joyce was neither a sailor nor a swimmer, she enjoyed summer days spent at Pontiac Yacht Club in Detroit and Muskegon Yacht Club in Muskegon in the community of friends. Joyce enjoyed a wide variety of music, including her favorite artists: Bill Gaither, Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, and Bob Seger. She was an avid reader and so became a DoubleDay book club member. Joyce liked to explore foods from different ethnic groups, most especially meals at El Burrito in Muskegon. Though she wasn't a fan of chocolate ice cream, she did enjoy any and all other forms of chocolate.
Without a doubt, Joyce's greatest joy was her family. A steadfast caregiver, she expertly and lovingly supported her son Greg's special needs, as well as Jim's needs, as he battled Parkinson's disease for over twenty years. As her family grew to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so did Joyce's joy. She was a proud grandmother who enjoyed sharing in the lives of Brittany, Courtney, Sarah, Drake, and Alex. When great-grandchildren Jackson and Sophie arrived Joyce was delighted to be known as Nana.
Clearly, we will feel the absence of Joyce’s steadfast love and care, but find much comfort in our many treasured memories and knowing that she is in heaven and we will be reunited again. We celebrate the many ways Joyce gifted our lives, and in this way keep her spirit alive by inspiring others as she inspired each of us.
Joyce L. Peterson, age 84, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, went to meet her Lord and Savior on March 23, 2023, with her daughters at her side. Joyce was a lifelong member of the Evangelical Covenant Church, most recently First Evangelical Covenant Church, Grand Rapids, MI. Joyce is survived by her children, Pam (Greg) Guest of Norton Shores, MI, Karole (Chris) Baar of Kalamazoo, MI, and Gregory Peterson of Spring Lake, MI, as well as grandchildren, Brittany (John) Jager, Courtney Guest, Alex Guest, Sarah Baar, and Drake Baar; great-grandchildren Jackson and Sophie Jager. Joyce is survived by her brother Rodney (Diane) Niemisto, as well as several nieces and nephews. A memorial service celebrating Joyce's life will be held Monday, April 10 at 1 PM at First Evangelical Covenant Church, 1933 Tremont Blvd. NW. Friends may visit Joyce's family on Monday, April 10, from 11 to 1 pm at the church. Memorials may be made to First Evangelical Covenant Church. Please visit Joyce's personal web page to leave a memory or condolence or sign the online guestbook at www.lifestorynet.com.