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Life Story / Obituary
Joyce Wilcox was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. A caring nurturer, she cherished her years as a mother and was delighted with the arrival of her grandchildren. She leaves behind a rich legacy of accepting all people with compassion. Her warm personality, genuine friendship, and loving ways will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.
1931 saw crippling effects on the nation’s economy. Car manufacturers were going out of business, and a severe drought hit the Midwest causing dust bowls, yet the good news of that year was that Jacob and Eva (Heinbeck) Visger celebrated the arrival of their newborn daughter, Joyce Arlene, on March 31st in Marne, Michigan. Her birth was a shining moment during tough economic times.
When she was young, her family moved northeast of Grand Rapids to Muskegon. Joyce attended Muskegon area schools until they later moved to Ensley Center where they purchased a farm. Once they moved, Joyce decided to leave school and work on the family farm. She helped raise crops and took care of the chickens and cows. As a young woman, she went to work in downtown GR at the Wurzburg’s department store. At the tender age of nineteen, she married the man of her dreams, Wayne Wheeler. The two of them hit it off right from the start and married in August of 1950. They were eager to start a family and in the course of their first seven years, welcomed home Wayne Jr. in 1952, Gary in 1954, and Susan in 1957.
They made their family home in Comstock Park. Joyce enjoyed being a homemaker and was involved with keeping an immaculate home and entertaining her children. They attended Sparta schools and kept her very busy. When the summer months arrived, Joyce favored taking them to the local beaches and wading in the water. She was terrified of learning how to swim and kept her kids in life jackets until what they claimed was far too long! A fantastic cook, Joyce always fixed a home-cooked meal and had perfected her goulash, meatloaf, and scalloped potatoes over the years. In addition to her cooking, she loved to bake. The family grew accustomed to the aromas from the kitchen of her freshly-baked muffins, cookies, and cakes. Joyce loved fixing up anything her family enjoyed and always made enough to ensure there were seconds to go around! Her favorite time of day however was her 4 AM coffee in the peace and quiet of her home before the stirrings of the day. This magical time remained a priority for her well into her later years.
Sadly, Wayne passed in 1978 from a rare blood disorder. Both looking for companionship, Joyce fell in love married her sister Delores’ widower, Jim Wilcox, in 1980. After Joyce and Jim were married, she became a mother to Delores and Jim's children, Linda, Joan, Jackie and Jim. By this time, Joyce was already living on 11 Mile and they made their home there together. She and Jim were active members of North Park Baptist Church and shared many wonderful years. They enjoyed trips out to Wyoming to visit Wayne Jr, and also to Florida to spend time with Jim’s brother. Each and every Saturday was saved for breakfast out with family at the local Perkins restaurant. Her perfect day was getting up early, having coffee and going out for breakfast, and then coming home to float in the pool until fixing dinner. During the winter months, she would exchange her pool time for attending local craft shows or shopping. Another difficult loss for her was when her son, Gary, passed away in 1990 on Mother’s Day. She was devastated by such a tragedy and grieved deeply in his absence. Joyce leaned on her faith and close family and friends to get her through tough times.
As much as she treasured her family, Joyce held many special interests during her lifetime. She loved her family pets, especially her dog, Mandy. Feeding and watching the birds were also a favorite pastime. She even was known to shovel a path in the snow to her bird feeders in the winter so she could feed the birds. Joyce remained active well into her later years and even continued painting the interior of her home at the age of ninety! She loved her church hymns and reading books about the Amish. Their lifestyle was always interesting to her. Above all else, her family meant the world to her. Joyce modeled a lifetime of loving unconditionally. May the memories she shared stay forever in the hearts of her loved ones and may they find great comfort in knowing they were loved beyond measure.
WILCOX – WHEELER (Visger) Joyce age 92, of Grand Rapids, passed away on June 19, 2023. She was preceded in death by her husbands, Wayne Wheeler and James Wilcox; and son, Gary Wheeler. Joyce is survived by her children, Wayne (Annette) Wheeler Jr., Susan Morris, Linda (Duane) Maack, Joan Wilcox, Jackie (Scott) Egtvedt, and James (Darcy) Wilcox Jr.; 12 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. She was a longtime member of North Park Baptist Church and was active in their nursery for decades. The funeral service will be held at 12 PM on Friday, June 23, 2023, at North Park Baptist Church, 3365 Coit Ave NE. The family will receive visitors from 10 AM until the start of the service. Contributions in her memory may be made to Faith Hospice. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory or photo or to sign the guestbook online.