Joyce Ward

Joyce E. Ward

1937 - 2024

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Obituary of Joyce E. Ward

Joyce E. Ward, age 86 longtime resident of Iowa City died June 19, 2024.

Memorial Mass will be held Friday, July 19, 2024, at 10:00 am at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Iowa City with burial to follow at the Oakland Cemetery in Iowa City.  There will be a time of visitation for family and friends from 5 to 7pm Thursday, July 18th at Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service.  In lieu of flowers memorial donations can be made in her memory to Iowa City Hospice.  

Joyce Elaine McQueen was born December 23, 1937, in Shenandoah, Iowa to Howard and Twyla (Danielson) McQueen. She attended Locust Grove School (a one-room schoolhouse) and Hillsdale Country School (also a one-room schoolhouse) until transferring to Farragut in the 6th grade. She graduated from Farragut in 1956 with honors. Mom was a gifted athlete (between our Mom and our Dad, we kids should have all been Olympians, but alas). Basketball was her passion. She played for the Farragut Admiralettes, lettering from 8th thru 12th grade and was very proud to have played in two state tournaments. She was busy at Farragut High School; in addition to basketball she played softball and ran track, played drums in the band, was a twirler in the marching band, was Homecoming Queen, participated in choir, drama, and declamatory, and was a class officer. She was also crowned Farragut Community Days Queen.

She was a proud farm girl, raised in southwest Iowa with lots of family close by. Her beloved Great Aunts Maude and Ada played a large role in the formation of Mom’s morals and values. She spent many many hours in their company, telling her parents as soon as she got home from school that she was going to visit them and would run up the hill and through the orchard. Waiting for her there were all the homemade treats she wanted, along with quizzes on bible verses.

As a little girl she loved the baby chicks a bit too enthusiastically, then later came to detest the chore of collecting the eggs, in large part because it wasn’t uncommon to find a snake in the henhouse.

Unsure of her path after graduating high school, a special teacher stepped in and changed the course of her life by suggesting she could go to college. He mentored her through the college application to finding a place to live and landing a job. So off to Tarkio College she went, where she played on the basketball team and met the love of her life Francis Ward, but probably not in that order. They were married for 64 years.

Joyce and Fran started their married life as forest lookouts in Coeur D’Alene National Forest in Idaho before moving to Pilot Mound, Iowa where Joyce worked as a secretary at the high school. Frank’s teaching jobs then took them around Iowa to Thompson, Nashua, and Waterloo before moving to Syracuse, New York where Frank earned his masters degree. They finally settled in Iowa City in 1965. Mom made each location feel like home.

Mom and her dear friend Marlene Lake later opened Happy Times Preschool at the Ward residence. She thoroughly enjoyed the preschoolers and working with Marlene. For 21 years, they filled the lives of countless children with laughter and learning – just imagine all those happy "Good Morning to Yous”! She loved children’s books and would read them to anyone, preferably her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Family was everything to our mom. She was the force behind her loved ones' successes, an unheralded general. She got everyone to school/practice/rehearsal/meetings, wherever they needed to be. She enthusiastically attended so many ball games/meets/concerts/meetings. She made not just our breakfasts, lunches, dinners, birthday cakes, and school treats, she also made our clothes. Never happier than when family was in the house, at Christmas she would provide a basket where cell phones were to remain for the duration.

Mom was very competitive, from playing cards to shooting free throws in the driveway (underhand shots!). Card games could become very vocal as points were hotly debated. She loved to play tennis, and while in her 40’s she participated in a tennis tournament. She did very well until she fell and broke her arm. She insisted that she could continue playing left handed, but was not allowed to play. When telling this story years later, there was still a tinge of outrage in her voice and an insistence that she could have won.

After her kids grew up she discovered quilting, which quickly became her love language. An adventurous quilting artist, there was no method or technique she couldn’t master. There isn’t a member of her family that doesn’t have at least a few quilts. She loved writing a personalized label for each of them in which her love and pride in the recipient would overflow.

Lightning Round, Joyce:

was afraid of lightning; loved to cook; loved raspberries; wouldn’t recognize an organized filing system in any form; was a voracious and quick reader; loved BLTs with tomatoes fresh from the garden; participated in the boy’s 4-H ‘because they got to do the fun stuff”; was a wealth of parenting knowledge for her children and grandchildren; drove at a faster speed if she was angry; hated to be late - she drove fast then too; always knew if one of her kids had left mass early after communion; loved to drive with the music cranked and singing along, special favorites were any 50’s hits and ABBA; deeply loved her little dog Fagen; as a child wore dresses made from feedsacks; ran a stop sign to win a car race; her Christmas Chex Mix was not to be missed; was a great sounding-board and able to present a different perspective; loved Erma Bombeck’s syndicated newspaper column; was an absolute wiz at crossword puzzles.

When Fran developed dementia - and although she would deny it - she was courage personified. Demonstrating once again her selflessness in caring for her family. Taped next to her computer was this quote from Jacob Robidou “Fight with courage…believe that your best will be enough, and that the rest is in God’s hands.”

If it’s true that no one is finally forgotten until the ripples they cause in the world die away, then we are the lucky people that swim amidst the whitecaps she created. We carry her memory, and Frank’s, close to our hearts, and will continue to share their stories as we have done at every family gathering these many years, and in the years to come.

Joyce is survived by her children Patrick (Susan) of Johnston, Angela, Michele (John Smick), Tom (Sue), all of Iowa City. She is also survived by her grandchildren Megan Wimmer (Matthew) of Urbandale and their children Sophie, Brayden, and Xander; Molly Ernst (Tyler) of Urbandale and their children Royalty and Zaeyln; Connor (Katherine) of Polk City and their daughters Remi Jo and Maisie; Bradley Ward (Sabrina Leung) of St. Paul, Minnesota; Kathleen Jones (Cale) of Shenandoah and daughters Penelope, Caroline, and Mary Frances; Maeve Ward (Andrei Musetescu) of Kirksville Missouri; Myles Smick of Iowa City; Tyler Ward of St Paul, Minnesota; and Caitlin Ward (Brandon Lauck) and their daughter Noa of Roseville Minnesota. Survivors also include her siblings JF McQueen of Farragut, Julia Kemper (Douglas) of Cameron, Missouri, Jeanette Boehme (Tom) of Silver City, Jeffrey McQueen (Carrie) of Riverton, and Jada Hallberg (Dave) of Pocahontas.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Francis Ward, parents Howard and Twyla McQueen, and grandson Daniel Patrick Ward.


Visitation at Funeral Home

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Thursday, July 18, 2024
Gay & Ciha Funeral And Cremation Service
2720 Muscatine Ave.
Iowa City, Iowa, United States

Memorial Service

10:00 am
Friday, July 19, 2024
St. Patrick Catholic Church
4330 Saint Patrick Drive
Iowa City, Iowa, United States


Oakland Cemetery
1000 Brown Street
Iowa City, Iowa, United States