Former Eagle River resident Joyce Emily Willis (Houtz) died surrounded by her family at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home in Palmer on April 27, 2013. She was 88.
She was born Feb. 15, 1925 in Eagle Butte, S.D., to David and Rebie Houtz. Joyce and her twin brother James were the youngest of 12 siblings.
During the Great Depression, the Houtz family moved from South Dakota to Oregon for more work opportunity.
After graduating from Dallas High School, she attended Monmouth College, where she received a degree in teaching. Joyce met her husband Ed in Barstow, Calif. in 1947 and they were married on June 23, 1949.
Joyce and Ed traveled to Alaska via the Alcan Highway in 1950, arriving in Anchorage and eventually settling in Eagle River in 1953. Joyce taught school both in California and Alaska.
Joyce had many hobbies, including gardening, carving, quilting, sewing, tole painting and later traveling in she and Ed’s 5th wheel in the warmer Lower 48. Joyce was an integral partner with Ed on many of his political events as an Assemblyman and State Legislator.
Joyce was preceded in death by her son, Steve, and daughter, Linda.
She is survived by her husband, Ed Willis; sons, Rodney Willis (Linda) of Eagle River and Charlie Willis (Robin) of Anacortes, Wash.; daughter, Marla Griffin (Jesse) of Deltona Fla.; along with eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home, 250 East Fireweed Avenue in Palmer on Saturday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m.