Joyce Ellen Cook Early was born at the Baptist Hospital in Springfield, Missouri on June 20, 1948 to Esther Lovella Clark and Elston Paul Cook. She was the second of nine children.
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Joyce is preceded in death by both parents, her husband of 33 years, David Merle Early, two sisters (Connie Lovella Rader and Helen Marie Lowery) and one brother (James Mitchell Cook).
Joyce grew up mostly in Buffalo Missouri and learned the art of raising children at an early age, as her father was killed in a truck accident when she was 8 years old. She helped her mother and older brother raise her seven younger siblings and then went on to raise four children of her own – Jayne Elizabeth Owens (Tony, daughter Jamie); David Matthew Early (Tina, daughter Victoria, son Brian, son Brandon, son Alex, daughter Katie); Jahnya Evette Mueller (daughter Jenifer, son Joshua); and Douglas Mitchel Early (Tammy, son Devon).
Joyce worked hard all of her life – as a wife, mother, seamstress, egg candler, cinnamon roll baker, garment factory supervisor, waitress, restaurant owner, baby sitter, sock monkey maker, and grandmother. After 11 years of marriage, with four small children at home, Joyce’s beloved husband David suffered a debilitating stroke – paralyzing the left half of his body. Joyce worked tirelessly to support the family and nurse David back to health. After about a year, he regained the used of his limbs and they enjoyed life together for another 22 years. David left us in 2002 and Joyce was never the same. She never remarried, instead devoting herself to her children and grandchildren.
Joyce always enjoyed sewing and quilting was her passion. At one point, she bought a giant quilting machine and went into business for herself. Joyce was also talented at crochet and made many doilies, afghans, tablecloths, bedspreads, ponchos, baby booties, and bonnets. Her other passion was flowers. Joyce loved flowers and plants and always surrounded herself with as many as she could fit inside and outside of the house.
Although Joyce had many talents (she loved to paint and draw – as a teenager she was offered a job at KY3 as an illustrator), most will remember only her cooking. Joyce could cook anything from the scarcest of ingredients and seemed to have the recipe to everything inside her head. Never did anyone leave her table hungry, and most of the time they left raving about this dish or that one. Her potato salad was amazing, her cinnamon rolls known for miles around, people are probably still fighting over the last piece of monkey bread, and she simply could not make a big enough chocolate peanut butter torte to satisfy the crowd. She even fashioned her own (superior) recipe for burritos-enchilada style after a visit to Mexican Villa.
Joyce will be sorely missed by those she leaves behind, her four children and their spouses, 9 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren, 2 brothers and 3 sisters, all of their husbands and wives, innumerable nieces and nephews.
Joyce passed peacefully in her sleep on August 25, 2019 after a long battle with congestive heart failure, renal failure and COPD. Her beautiful white hair and striking blue eyes are brightening Heaven’s glow now, but here on Earth her love lives on.
Visitation will be 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. Thursday, August 29 at Greenlawn Funeral Home East with Services at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 31 at Bass Chapel Church. Burial will be at Bass Chapel Cemetery following the service.