CHANDLER — Joyce Ann Montgomery was born on July 26, 1933, in Liberal, Kansas. She passed away surrounded by loving family at Hospice of the Valley in Chandler, on Monday, July 24, 2017 at the age of 83.
Joyce was the oldest child of Harvey and Anna “Joyce” Osborne. She spent her youth in Wichita, Kansas, where her dad was a prominent corporate attorney and her mom ran a daycare. For many years Joyce was an only child. When she was nine years old, her sister Suzanne was born; later, her brother Paul Stephen “Stevie” completed the family.
Growing up, Joyce lived near the Arkansas River and often told stories of filling sandbags to help prevent flooding. As a young teen, she borrowed her friend’s comic books to teach her brother Stevie how to read. Joyce also loved to go to downtown Wichita to visit her father at his office. One of her favorite pictures shows them walking hand in hand down the busy street.
In 1951, Joyce and her family left Wichita and moved to Peridot on the San Carlos Apache Reservation to become the proprietors of Rupkey’s Trading Post. Needless to say, this was quite a culture shock for her, moving from a big city to the wilds of Arizona where there were dirt roads, no phones and people who spoke a completely different language.
Soon after she moved to Arizona, Joyce met her husband Melvin Montgomery at the Justa Café in Globe. They married in 1953, and later moved to Tucson so that Melvin could finish college at the University of Arizona. After Melvin’s graduation, they moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Melvin served in the Air Force. After he left the service they moved to San Diego, Calif., where they raised their family. While living in San Diego, Joyce enjoyed taking her family to Pacific Beach, the San Diego Zoo, and Balboa Park. Throughout her lifetime, San Diego remained a favorite place for her. She visited there often, and thankfully was able to go back there in January of 2017 to see the Pacific Ocean once again.
In 1968, Joyce and her family moved back to Peridot after the death of her father to help her mother run the trading post. Shortly thereafter, Joyce and her husband took over the business and renamed it Peridot Trading Post where they delighted in immersing themselves into life on the reservation. She never met a stranger that she couldn’t befriend. She enjoyed talking with her customers and was genuinely interested in their lives and their families. Many of them became lifelong friends. This quality of hers, which was retained throughout her life, prompted family members to joke that within five minutes of meeting someone, no matter who it was, Joyce would know their life history. She truly cared about everyone that she would meet.
During her time in Peridot, Joyce was introduced to one of her favorite hobbies: buying and trading Native American collectibles. She was particularly proud of her part in helping to build a market for Apache burden baskets, as well as cradleboards, dolls, and beadwork. As members of the IACA, Joyce and Melvin traveled to Native American arts and crafts shows around the area displaying their items and promoting San Carlos arts and crafts.
Although running the store took up most of their time, Melvin and Joyce were able to find time to go to the White Mountains for weekends, eventually building a second home in Pinetop which became their escape. Joyce always loved to spend time traveling, and loved giving her family unique memories on these trips. On one unforgettable trip to Yellowstone, she befriended and hand-fed a bear. Throughout her life, Joyce displayed an unwaveringly adventurous, vivacious, and feisty spirit. She visited every state at least once, including a trip to Hawaii that her children gave her and Melvin for their 25th wedding anniversary. She and her family made several trips to Alaska, and traveled many times to Canada. Joyce was also able to travel to Mexico, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France.
Joyce’s church family at St. John’s Episcopal Church was an important part of her life. She was a member of the Daughters of the King and the Episcopal Church Women, or ECW. For many years, Joyce could be seen at the annual ECW Christmas bazaar putting her retail skills to use. For weeks before the bazaar she would make peanut brittle, which was always very popular. Until the end of her life she would organize the monthly birthday luncheons and looked forward to seeing her friends there.
Joyce was most proud of her family. She was protective of all of us. She made sure that we knew we could do anything we set our mind to. She was a shoulder to cry on, someone to come to for advice. We knew we could always come home. Even though Joyce’s last several years were difficult ones because she was suffering from several chronic illnesses, she continued to put everyone else’s needs before hers.
In her later years, Joyce particularly enjoyed her rose garden. She could look out her bedroom window and see many different colors. She loved seeing birds, especially the hummingbirds that she never failed to feed and the cardinals that would show up in the yard. She took great pleasure spending time with her great-grand-turtle, Walter, and her grand-dog, Zoe.
Joyce is survived by her daughters, Julie Bateman (Bill) of Longmont, Colo., Diana Montgomery, of Globe, and Sandra Montgomery, of Payson. She has four grandchildren: Avena Singh (Yashveer) of Coos Bay, Oregon, Jenna Bodmer (Jacob), of Aurora, Colo., Logan Cummings, of Sutherlin, Oregon, and Keira Montgomery, of Globe, who is currently following the family tradition and attending the University of Arizona in Tucson. She has three great-grandchildren: Aayush Singh, Rishabh Singh, and Sayjal Singh of Coos Bay, Oregon. Joyce is also survived by her sister Suzanne Halliday, of Colorado Springs, Colo. and Paul Stephen Osborne, of Denver, Colo.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m., on Saturday, August 5, 2017, at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Globe. The family is requesting donations in lieu of flowers to the backpack program at St. John’s Episcopal Church.