“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" II Timothy 4:7
Jesus welcomed Sister Joyce Virginia Barnes Gray into His loving arms on Sunday, January 30, 2022.
Joyce was born to the union of Mildred Davis Barnes and Hubert Barnes in Baltimore, Maryland on March 18, 1943. She was educated in the Baltimore, Maryland public school system. At the age of twelve, Joyce relocated, with her mother and brother Robert Barnes, where she continued her education in Newark, New Jersey. Subsequently, Joyce attended Central High School in Newark, NJ. As life would have it, Joyce’s mother remarried the renowned saxophonist - Everette “Rocky” Walker and developed a strong paternal relationship until his death.
Love hit Joyce really hard; she marry her high school sweetheart, Jimmie Gray. Together, they were blessed with four beautiful children: Janice, Robert (Jerard), Keith (Nookie) and Jamira. Jimmie Gray preceded her in death.
Joyce was a lifelong member of the House of God Church, Keith Dominion. At a tender age in Baltimore Maryland, Joyce received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In Newark, New Jersey, she worked under her grandfather Bishop William Davis’ leadership, as an active member of the early youth department and was an avid Sunday Bible School scholar. In the Orange, New Jersey church, she worked faithfully under Pastors General Elder Arthur C. Sessoms (deceased) and General Elder Andre L. Wheatley, Sr. Joyce had a deep passion for Holy Communion. Communion Sunday was always a priority; she would even leave work, in her uniform to attend. And, if Communion Service was postponed – Joyce would let you know just how she felt about that! Joyce served on the Pastor’s Aide Committee as well as the Women Auxiliary. Yes, Joyce loved the Lord and gave generously to her church. She supported many church auxiliaries and programs, sustaining her love of the church until the Lord called her from labor to reward.
Joyce had a great impact on the life of all of those she encountered. She is most loved and remembered by her family, church family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors as a woman of God with a heart of compassion. She enjoyed supporting her children’s school events as well as community events. She loved watching her sports; and even found time to play baseball as a catcher, with the Vailsburg Women Softball league.
Who was Joyce Gray? She was an ordinary person who did extraordinary things. She was a very pleasant and quiet person. She was raised in a very loving family where she developed a close relationship with her aunts, uncles, and cousins. She had a special bond with her cousin Juanita whom she called her sister/cousin who continued throughout adulthood. People called them frick and frack because of their close relationship. She was a treasure to her family and friends and rarely gave her mother problems or concerns. Joyce was the embodiment of selflessness. She literally fed the hungry, clothed & housed the destitute & helped anyone in need. When family members moved to New Jersey she often went out of her way to help them get established, often opening her home.
During birthdays, she made sure to celebrate and went out of her way to prepare dinner for the birthday personality. Before her illness, she made it her mission to ensure that every child she knew had a Christmas toy. Her often wry & off-color sense of humor was legendary, as was her habit of renaming folk. If you’re in the family, oftentimes she would gave you a nickname. Many of her living relatives are ducking nicknames they still can’t shake even today. names such a; Fish, Fay, Shelpot, Tweet, Dinky, Lil Butter, Tonk, Carretta, Bucky, Cheeky, CaliWel, just to name a few.
She began her career at the Essex County Juvenile Detention center as a transport officer & laundry room attendant. She went from working in the laundry room to subsequently, working her way up to a well-respected corrections sergeant until illness forced her to retire. She loved her job because it allowed her to help children turn their lives around. She had a big impact on the children she met while working there.
Joyce was a phenomenal woman. She loved unconditionally & taught her kids & grand kids to do the same. She loved her family, she loved her church, and she loved God. She went by surnames like Mom, Mama Gray, MeMa, Godmother, Sista/Cuz, Cousin Joyce…by whatever name you called her, she will be sorely missed. Joyce was extremely proud of her children, Janice, Jerard, Nookie and Jamira, her grandchildren, and her godchildren. With having her family nearby, she took her illness in stride and fought the good fight of faith until the Lord called her home.
Joyce leaves a legacy of memories that will be treasured forever. Those left to cherish her memories are: four children; Janice Elaine, Robert Jerard (Valerie), Keith Jerome (Iona), and Jamira Gray. Her one and only beloved brother, Robert Barnes; eight grandchildren; Jerard, Danyale, Jacquetta, Hariyaah, Sadia, Janiyah, Jazmine, and Emmanuel; two great grandchildren; Lorenzo and Raquel; five Godchildren, Jacquelyn Caviness, Tina Johnson, Pamela Stubbs, Crystal Smith and Christopher Booker; her special cousin Juanita Amos; one Aunt Loretta Fowler; two uncles, William & Bernard Davis; a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, church family, other relatives and friends. She was predeceased by her parents.
ODE TO JOYCE
Let us not weep, Joyce is merely asleep. Has she left to return never? No, because in us she lives on forever.
I can hear her now: "Death, where is thy victory? Where is thy sting? Ha! Thru the resurrection, I too am free!"
"I can feel Joy Unspeakable coming over me. I feel the lifting of pain. Feel the peace falling like cascading rain. Coming over me."
In our selfishness, we didn't want Joyce to go, but we needed to see,
who are we to stand in the way when God says come to me?
We must be thankful for the times shared together, times of laughter, times of sorrow, times of fun,
some days not so great, so days so great, nothing could be better.
Let us not just remember Joyce by her works and her deeds, but by the laughter she created and the love she wrought.
Her obit will mention her accomplishments and achievements, but no obit can capture the joy she brought.
Always love you, Joyce. My soul is a little less now, as another hole is torn from its fabric,
a hole which will be stitched together when we meet again.
We miss you, Joyce. I miss you. Cliche as it may sound, it is truly a better place you've found.
Free from pain and sorrow and that makes me feel Joy Unspeakable, coming all over me.
by Marvin Martin
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