At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Standale Reformed Church Scholarship Fund
202 Cummings Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49534
Life Story / Obituary
Generous, gracious, and kind, Joyce Stark lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. A woman who embodied the principles of her faith, Joyce led by example, welcoming each day as a gift and every person as a friend. She lived wholeheartedly and never hesitated to share her time and talents in service of others. With tremendous joy, Joyce shared her passion for music, unwavering faith, and love of life with everyone she met, and her infectious smile and boundless energy inspired all who were blessed to know her. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, teacher, and friend, Joyce's legacy will long live in the hearts and lives of those she so dearly loved.
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 for the future than in the Muskegon home of Henry Harold and Ebelena (Workman) Poort as they welcomed their daughter Joyce to their family on May 7, 1932.
The Poort family moved to Grand Haven in 1940, where they became active members of Grand Haven First Reformed Church. Joyce's father worked as a draftsman, and her mother was a homemaker. Along with her siblings, Charlotte and Douglas, Joyce attended public schools. Her interest in music began while in high school, where she played flute and was a majorette in the Grand Haven marching band.
Following graduation from Grand Haven High School, Joyce moved to Grand Rapids to attend Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music, pursuing her interest in music. Good times were spent traveling the country with the choir. Not having a car, trips home involved a train ride to Muskegon, where she caught a ride back to Grand Haven.
Fun money was earned with various part-time jobs. She did some office work, along with some babysitting, when in Grand Haven for the weekend. One of her regular sitting jobs was where she met the love of her life, Bernard "Bud" Stark, when babysitting Bud's nieces and nephews. Having finished her education at GRSBM, she and Bud were married on November 27, 1953, at First Reformed Church in Grand Haven. They honeymooned in Niagara Falls before settling into an apartment on the west side of Grand Rapids, and Bud returned to his job as an accountant.
Their family grew quickly with Linda's arrival the following fall, prompting the purchase of a two-family house on the southeast end of town. John arrived next, followed by Steven, and once again, the need for space required a move. Building their dream home in Standale was the next stop, with enough bedrooms to go around and land for a garden. Rodney arrived, the fourth child (and third boy!) within a six-year stretch.
Joyce was kept busy wrangling kids, giving piano lessons, directing church choirs, attending PTA meetings, and managing all the family needs and details. Responsibility, accountability, and consequences were the household rules, always administered with unconditional love. Countless hours were spent in the kitchen cooking and feeding always-hungry kids and canning the bounty from the garden: beans, tomatoes, corn, squash, pickles, and Bud's favorite, peaches.
When the children were finally in school all day, Joyce also returned to school part-time at Grand Valley State College. Education became her calling, and she completed her teaching degree in 1972. She began her 40-year teaching career with Grandville Public Schools that fall, teaching upper elementary students at Central, West, and East. A lifelong learner, Joyce earned a Master's Degree from Western Michigan University next.
Teaching school meant summers off, and camping and cottages were the vacations of choice. Loading up the family and heading north was the frequent destination: Copper Harbor, Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinac Island, Big Star Lake, Elk Lake, and all up the west coast of Michigan. There were also "big" family vacation road trips to the 1967 World's Fair in Quebec, Mammoth Caves, Salt Lake City, and north to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Ever the student, she took a leave of absence from teaching and returned to school one more time to earn a Masters in Religious Education from Western Theological Seminary. Having served in various capacities within the family's church, Standale Reformed Church, she added Children's Ministries to her busy schedule along with church elder and Commissioned Pastor.
When "empty-nesters" became Joyce and Bud's reality, Joyce just picked up the pace. She planned weekend bike trips up north with church groups, mission trips to Honduras, and Road Scholar trips around the country with Bud. Many more adventures were enjoyed with grandchildren as they arrived. Date nights with Bud included trips downtown to the GR Symphony Pops, Broadway Grand Rapids, grandkids' hockey games, or maybe just a quick trip to Mr. Burger for an olive burger.
As dementia began to steal her away following Bud's passing, she continued to remain active and participate as she was able. She especially enjoyed Sunday morning worship and Wednesday dominoes, daily walks in her Lincoln Lawns neighborhood, and Friday morning coffee with neighbors in "the hood." Janice, her neighbor, would take her on afternoon rides (with a stop for a treat!) to visit places Joyce had mentioned over the years. Visits from her kids, grands, and great-grands were also high on her list of joys.
Joyce Doreen (Poort) Stark of Grand Rapids, beloved child of God, was called home to her Lord and Savior on November 23, 2023, at the age of 91. Joyce's calling was education, and she taught in the Grandville Public Schools district for over 40 years. She was also an active member of Standale Reformed Church, serving in many capacities, but her love was children's ministries. Joyce was preceded in death by her husband, Bernard "Bud" Stark; sister, Charlotte (Jack) Williams; and brother, Douglas (Liz) Poort. Joyce is survived by her children Linda (Bruce), John, Steven (Michelle), and Rodney; grandchildren Michael (Breann), Colton, McKenzie, and Benjamin (Megan); great-grandchildren Blake, Wyatt, and Quinn; and many nieces and nephews. A private family service will be held, with interment at Rosedale Memorial Park. The family is grateful for the love and care given by her church family, Sue and Heidi, her caregivers at Green Acres-Standale, and our Faith Hospice care team and volunteers. Well done, good and faithful servant. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Standale Reformed Church Scholarship Fund or Faith Hospice. To read more of Joyce's Life Story and leave a memory or condolence please visit www.heritagelifestory.com.