Joyce Halverson, 93, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 17, 2020 at Benefis Teton Medical Center in Choteau. She spent her final days surrounded by those who loved her most, a conclusion that epitomized her life which focused on her family and taking care of others.
Joyce Evelyn Branch was born on January 22, 1926 in LaCrosse, Washington. She grew up near Conrad, attending King Country School and graduating from Conrad High School. Named after a courageous heroine in a book her mother had read, Joyce became a strong, independent, and caring matriarch, loved and admired by her immediate and large extended family.
Joyce met her husband, Wagner Halverson, at a dance with live music when she was 19 years old. She thought he was “considerate, handsome, and a very good dancer.” It didn’t take Wag long to know she was the one. They married several months later and had two children, Diane and Duane, who she loved fiercely. Together with Wag, they farmed and ranched west of Pendroy, where she flawlessly managed the household and tackled any task on the farm when she was needed. Though she took on many roles in her life, being a devoted wife and mother was always foremost.
Joyce was a fabulous cook and enjoyed sharing her talent at home with her family, at any Pendroy potluck, and with friends throughout the community. She was a gracious host who always had an extra plate ready and could whip up a meal with ease if company stopped by. Her kids and grandkids all remember spending time in her kitchen learning how to cook. They watched in awe as she never measured anything and had most of her recipes memorized.
Joyce was the ultimate hostess and conversationalist. She had an uncanny ability to connect with people. Her family often laughed at her ability to learn someone’s life story in even a brief interaction. She liked to visit, and people liked talking and sharing with her. As a founding member of the Pendroy Social Club, she helped build a sense of community that was light-hearted and fun but also a vital link in responding when another family was in need.
Those who knew her best were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Joyce in her nearly 94 years. Her generosity and propensity to step up and care for others set an example for her family that remains deeply ingrained. In addition to the lessons she taught through example, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren fondly remember Grandma’s forehead kiss that was more accurate than a thermometer, her love of celebrity gossip magazines, her always-stocked candy drawer (and encouragement to have another), her amazement that only one of her three granddaughters could make a proper gravy, her vocal protests about not liking her grandchildren's pets even though they caught her smiling and petting the ones she was forced to hold, her ability to talk to anyone about anything and remember every detail, and her consistent generosity, not only on holidays and birthdays, but all year round.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Wag; mother, Ella Stokes; father, Ben Branch; two step-fathers, Chris Ostrom and Parley Stokes; and sister, Virginia “Gin” Storkson.
She is survived by her daughter, Diane (Herb) Bingham; son, Duane Halverson; five grandchildren, Brian (Brittney) Bingham, Stacey (Jason) Lovett, Kevin (Helen) Halverson, Kirsten (Andy) Passmore, and Kendra (Drew) Miller; and her twelve great-grandchildren, Sam and Hunter Bingham, Lena and Annika Lovett, Miles and Gus Halverson, Aundra, Kolsten, Elin and Anders Passmore, and Saxon and Avery Miller.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 25th at 10 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Choteau, followed by a private burial in Hillside Cemetery in Conrad next to her husband Wag. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Teton County Food Pantry or the charity of your choice.