Service Date: April 27th, 2019 10:30 a.m.
Service Location: Bardo Lutheran Church, Tofield
On Friday, April 19th, Joyce Henderson, aged 84 went (in her words) “to the happy hunting grounds” with her family by her side. Joyce will be deeply missed by her family, friends, and all who had the opportunity to know her and to have her “tell it like it is”.
Joyce was born in Mannville, Alberta in 1934 to Amy and Lee Donnenworth, where she was the younger sibling to Edwin (Wilda), Walter (Caroline), Leona (Art Robinson) , and Louise (Donald Wagner), all of whom have passed on before her. She grew up on the original homestead and moved to the city where she took business school and entered the work world. She worked at various businesses, married young and had her first daughter, Suzanne, in 1953. She then divorced, moved to Whitehorse and married Donald Henderson in 1963. Shortly afterwards they moved backgv to Edmonton, where Dianne was born in 1964 and Marianne in 1965. In 1965, they also bought 160 acres of trees, hills and rocks in the Spilstead area, which was to become her home, farm and absolute favorite place in the world. While living in the City, raising two babies, and clearing the land at Spilstead, she opened her home to her nephews and other young men from Mannville who needed a place to stay. In recalling some of those memories recently she told a many great stories of “her boys”, having a drink or two, and cooking “all day”.
After 6 years of hard work, Joyce and the family moved from the city to the Spilstead homestead – now with fewer trees, but just as many rocks and hills, but with the additional of a house that had been moved from the city. The rather grand home had to be moved or destroyed to make room for the expanded roadways in Edmonton, so it was the perfect bargain. With just the basics, they began life in the country. Never one to shy away from hard work, Joyce plunged in and started transforming the property into a farm. Always one to enjoy good company, Joyce quickly made friends with the neighbors. Once again, her kitchen became a hub for all those that wanted to drop in for coffee, a glass of rum and coke (or simply a Coke), or a beer. She always made enough dinner for those guests that might “drop in” and known for her baking, there was always something good “in the freezer” that could be brought up and served. During those early years in the Spilstead/Tofield Community she met her best friend Rusty, whom she could always count on for a good conversation, wise counsel, never ending stories, laughs and always a bit of rum until 2005, when Rusty passed away.
Farming, and especially cows, were her life – she worked as hard as anyone and faced adversity as all those in the farming business do. Despite the challenges, she pushed on. Always saying she loved farming even when that meant calving out 100 cows during the cold winters (which seemed to always involve Dr. Jim or Dr John at 2 am when it was 40 below), baling hay and riding the stooker in the heat of summer, hauling in the hay after the first snowfall, raising 100’s of “pail-bunters”, or dealing with frozen water or sewer lines or any other number of challenges common to farm life. In addition to farming she loved gardening and grew a garden every summer until just last summer. Always looking to raise some additional funds, she would sell milk and eggs and, at one point, even catered events around the community. Even after Donald passed away in 1987, she forged ahead continuing with the farm, though scaling it back somewhat.
Continuing to be active in the community, though she knew of him, it wasn’t until 1988 that the great love of her life, Charlie McLeod, entered the picture. Together they traveled across Canada and to many locations in the US in one of her latest “new cars”. Inseparable, they did everything together and spent many hours dancing across the local communities, playing darts at the Hall, watching the Toronto Blue Jays on TV, gardening, drinking beer and enjoying each other’s company. Up until most recently, that even included farming – they would buy cows in the spring and take care of them until the fall. Their home continued to be open to many visitors that wanted to drop by and share a meal, a coffee, or a glass of wine, beer or rum. They had a glorious time together until Charlie was suddenly taken from us in February 2018. With a broken heart, Joyce carried on with the bravery and strength that she had relied on throughout her life until the very minute of her passing. Even in her last weeks she never shied away from saying exactly what she was thinking or telling it exactly the way it was – endearing herself to all the nursing staff and hospice volunteers that cared so lovingly for her during the final part of her journey.
Joyce leaves many to cherish her memory (and to raise a glass in her honor) including her immediate family: Dianne and Marianne & Phil Paul and their children Emily and James; all of Charlie’s family: Dan (Phyllis) McLeod, Linda (Wade) McLeod, Greg (Liezl) McLeod, Susan (Phil) Baker, Jacqueline McLeod, and MaryAnn (Brian) Faltinson, several grandchildren and greatgrandchildren; as well as Charlie’s brothers Ken (Ann) McLeod and Jack Muir. Joyce was predeceased by her parents, her daughter Suzanne, all her brothers and sisters, her husband, Donald, her best friend Rusty, and the love of her life Charlie.
Her family would like to thank the staff and volunteers from Bethany Meadows, Camrose Hospice Society, St Mary’s Hospital in Camrose, Tofield Home Care and the Tofield Hospital that cared so lovingly for her and all of those that came to visit and spend time with her over the last several months. Her family requests that in lieu of flowers to please send donations to the Camrose Hospice Society, or the Spilstead Hall Ladies Society.
A funeral service will take place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 27, 2019 at Bardo Lutheran Church in Tofield, AB with Pastor Kevin Langager officiating. Cremation will follow the service and inurnment will take place a the Tofield Cemetery on a later date.
Memorial donations may be made to the Hospice Society of Camrose, or to the Spilstead Hall Ladies Association.