Joyce Bonita Pou Letchworth went to be with the Lord on January 25, 2022. She passed peacefully in her sleep, with her husband of 65 years at her side. Her name was aptly chosen, for she radiated both beauty and joy, which forever enriched the lives of those who knew her.
Joyce was the oldest child and only daughter of Pauline and Ed Pou, two strong and resilient characters from whom she inherited her independence, creativity, and generous spirit. She was born on June 1 in Flagstaff, Arizona, in a year which she certainly would not have allowed to be disclosed. She lived many places throughout her life, yet those which were particularly important to her included New Orleans, LA; Stuart, FL; Cayce, SC; New Albany, MS; Tupelo, MS; French Camp, MS; and of course, Flat Rock, NC.
She met the love of her life, Gary Letchworth, at age 18. They were married a year later, on August 12, 1957, at Rockefeller Center, in a live broadcast of “The Bride and Groom Show.” Their deep love for one another served as a reflection of their faith to all who knew them, and resulted in 4 beloved children, 16 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
Joyce studied at Florida State University and Blue Mountain College, MS, and graduated with a triple major in Bible, Art, and History. Her choices are indicative of her passion for research and the wide range of interests she had. She was extremely passionate about her faith in God, which shaped every area of her life. She was a talented artist, storyteller, and designer, with a deep appreciation and keen eye for beauty. Joyce was also an avid reader and rarely without a book, driven by her insatiable curiosity and desire to learn more about history and the world around her.
Her love for God and desire to spread His message of salvation to others, Joyce ministered alongside her husband as a pastor’s wife while raising her children and entered the mission field in 1980, serving 15 years in Pakistan. One of her many roles was as administrator of a girl’s boarding school. Following their years in Pakistan, their roles expanded into all Asia when Gary became vice-president of Evangelism Explosion, for 17 years. They returned to Pakistan part-time as volunteers until they retired in 2012. They have made their permanent home Flat Rock, NC where Joyce could live in the mountains she so dearly loved. They have attended Pinecrest Presbyterian Church where Joyce continued to serve as bible school teacher, in the ladies’ ministry, and bible study leader.
Joyce never knew a stranger. She welcomed all with open arms, twinkling eyes, a wide smile, and a hot cup of tea. Joyce loved chocolate, flower gardens, decorating, hosting tea parties, “little” (children’s) church, Bible school. She adored animals and always had a variety of pets, which included a pet raccoon as a child, and loved watching the birds, squirrels, bears, and even mongoose with whom she shared her yard over the years. The only things Joyce could never tolerate were cruelty and snakes.
By anyone’s definition or account, she was an extraordinary person. It is impossible to include all the stories about Joyce, because each person who knew her had a funny story or special memory. Her heart for ministry was shaped by her deep compassion for marginalized and suffering people, and she was particularly focused on ministering to women and children. Joyce had a talent for making everyone around her feel special, and she always found a way to make the people around her feel deeply loved and uplifted. She was always fully authentic and present, no matter where she was or who she was with. A single lifetime, however long, was going to be too brief for those who loved her, but we know that she is with her Savior and we will see her again, and we take comfort in knowing that she made the world a more beautiful and loving place for having been in it.
Joyce is survived by her husband, Gary Letchworth; her children Bill Letchworth (Mae Lee), Nancy Canterbury (Buck), Jackie Burrell (Jimmy), and Joy Letchworth Biggers; her grandchildren: Heather McLeod, Russell Smith (Shannon), Ryan Canterbury (Sarah), Jessica Baklarz, Jacob Burrell, Jonathan Burrell (O’Nika), Helen Joy George, Katie Beth Garrett, (Tyler), Juliana Dodson (Drew), Georgia Ann Clark (Daniel), Sarah Grace Hargrove (Sam), James Biggers, John Biggers, Rebekah Letchworth (Robert Cook), Andrew Letchworth, and Thomas Letchworth; her great-grandchildren: Kendall McLeod, Mallory and Bridget Buffington, Tanner and Dylan Smith; Luke, Caroline, and Sam Canterbury; Riley Baklarz; Rainy Lewis; Barclay, Sullivan, and Lucy Miller George; Drew Kate, Magnolia Anne, and Avonlea Dodson; Eloise June and Boone Clark. Joyce is also survived by her brother Richard Risner “Dicky” Pou.
Preceded in death by her parents and her brother Edward C Pou, Jr.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at Pinecrest Presbyterian Church.
Date: Saturday, January 29, 2022
Time: 2:00 pm
Pinecrest Presbyterian Church
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