Joyce S. Washburn


Joyce S. Washburn, 80, of Springfield, passed away at Memorial Medical Center on Sunday, April 3, 2016.

Joyce was born July 17, 1935 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Walter and Virginia (Lange) Soyez.

She married Richard (Dick) Washburn on August 11, 1957. Joyce and Dick have two children; Valerie (Washburn) Leonatti (husband, David) of Chatham, Illinois and Michael Lange Washburn (wife, Viviana) of New Port Richey, Florida.

Joyce is survived by her husband and children; and by two sisters, Jan Soyez, of Warsaw, Indiana and Diane (Soyez) Mosiman (husband, Fred) of Anderson, Indiana. Joyce and Dick have five grandchildren; Alena Leonatti of Carpinteria, California, Lauren Leonatti of Champaign, Illinois, and Vanessa Washburn, Brian Washburn and Nickolas Washburn all of New Port Richey, Florida.

Joyce graduated from University High School of Normal, Illinois, in 1953, and graduated from Illinois State University in 1957 with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education. Joyce enjoyed a 25-year teaching career from 1966-1991 as a high school art instructor – those years served at Bond County Community Unit #2 High School, Greenville, Illinois.

Joyce was a dedicated and rigorous art teacher. Long before research-driven data proved that students exposed to and immersed in the arts were bolstered in their success in other areas of study, Joyce insisted on excellence and hard work. Her exacting commitment to her students was evidenced in how many students went on to careers in the arts and related disciplines. It became routine that her students became award winners in the regional Central Illinois High School Scholastic Art Awards – hosted and exhibited here in Springfield – her students winning awards against competition from much larger urban high schools and districts.

Joyce’s teaching was recognized as she was named one of seven statewide finalists for Illinois Teacher of the Year in 1980.

Joyce founded the Bond County School District’s first foreign travel program for art history studies, sponsoring the A.F.S. – International Foreign Exchange organization and leading trips abroad for her art students. With that same intellectual curiosity for other cultures and histories, Joyce, Dick and their family traveled extensively in Europe and in the U.S., including a trip to Russia – then behind the Iron Curtain.

In the same spirit, Joyce and Dick hosted foreign exchange students at their Greenville home.

Joyce was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma – an organization of women educators, and belonged to the Illinois and National Art Education Associations. She was a member of the Shakespeare Club in Greenville for many years.

Joyce and Dick shared a love of nature. She and Dick would grow ornamental broom corn, cock’s comb, and all varieties of flowers. Later in retirement, she would use her talent and these materials to design and construct a variety of organic artworks—hand-made wreaths and arrangements utilizing plants grown at their home including leaves, seeds, flowers, grains—painted in gold leaf or highlighted in their state of natural beauty.

Joyce enjoyed the performing arts and all cultural institutions, and made many trips the St. Louis Art Museum (member) and to the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis for live theatre.

As many in the family have pointed out in reminiscences, Joyce Washburn was “one-in-a-million” for her diversity of interests, artistic and cultural pursuits, and how she always shared those gifts readily with friends and family.

Memorial Gathering and Ceremony: The family will host a memorial gathering from 10:30 a.m. until the memorial ceremony at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 533 S. Walnut St., Springfield, with Rev. Dr. Blythe Denham Kieffer officiating.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Illinois Chapter, 2309 W. White Oaks Dr., Suite E, Springfield, IL 62704 or Habitat for Humanity, 2744 S. 6th St., Springfield, IL 62703.

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