Life Story Visitation
Mass of Christian Burial
Monday, March 27, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
St. Monica Catholic Church
4408 S. Westnedge Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
A luncheon will follow in the church hall.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Joy Adams, it is easy to see her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. She was well known for her shy, but friendly demeanor, and her faith formed the strong foundation on which her life was built. Nothing brought Joy greater happiness than spending time with her loved ones, fostering deep and personal relationships with those around her, and being there to help in ways both great and small. Deeply loved, Joy will be forever missed by those who knew her best.
The Roaring Twenties were a decade of great change and excitement in America. Jazz music and ballroom dancing were among the cultural trends while we celebrated the first motion picture in both color and sound. The very first traffic signals were installed and Band-Aid’s hit the shelves of pharmacies across the nation. There was much to celebrate in the lives of Ira and Edith (Wilson) Brown for a much different reason as they announced the birth of the baby girl they named Joy on March 28, 1926, in Thompson, Michigan, in the UP.
Joy was a typical young girl of her generation in many ways. She was raised in the family home as the youngest of five children alongside her older siblings, Lester, Ken, Horace, and Udine. Joy’s father was involved in construction, even building part of the Kalamazoo State Theater, while her mother worked at Shakespeare Company making fishing equipment. During her childhood Joy grew to be close to her Italian neighbors, who introduced her to wonderful Italian food and to the Catholic Church. Shortly after this, she received lessons in the faith, quickly grew to love Jesus and God, and was baptized into the church. Always up for a fun time, Joy spent her allowance going to 10-cent movies every week. She once misplaced her change, causing quite an upset that week. As a teenager, she was selected to ride on the celery truck in the Celery City Parade, and her family affectionately gave her the title of “Celery Queen.” Throughout her school years, Joy nurtured a passion for singing, and was an active high school choir member with a true passion for music. She was also an excellent student, especially when it came to English and reading. She graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1944 and began working as a receptionist in a doctor’s office, more than ready to see what the future held for her.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Joy as she met the man who would soon become the love of her life. His name was Virgil Adams, and the two first met in their neighborhood. Virgil was home from the military and living at the neighbor’s house while looking for a place of his own. They met at a community dance that welcomed home the WWII veterans, and it didn’t take them long to realize that they were made for each other. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Joy and Virgil were married on October 22, 1946.
All who knew Joy can certainly agree that, of all the things she loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. Over the years, she and Virgil were overjoyed to welcome their six children into their hearts and home. Joy thrived in her role as a mother and devoted herself to caring for Dennis, Candy, Nancy, Janet, Keith, and Carol. Providing their children with a Catholic education was of the utmost importance. Joy and Virgil both worked hard to make that a reality despite life’s hardships and challenges. Later in life, Joy was thrilled to become a grandmother, great-grandmother, and even a great-great-grandmother. She considered herself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
Joy was happiest when spending time with her family. With a large family, vacations were on a budget, but always full of adventure and laughter. They loved taking summer trips to Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Deer Forest in Coloma, and touring the Kellogg’s plant. Virgil, an exceptionally hard worker, only took one week off each year. The kids knew it was coming and were filled with anticipation at what their family vacation week would bring when they were awakened to, “Get ready for pink elephants, peanuts, and cotton candy.” On holidays and many Sundays, they would have wonderful dinner celebrations at Grandma Brown’s house. As their children married and left home and moved throughout our great country, Joy and Virgil enjoyed many trips to Florida, Montana, Wisconsin, and South Dakota to visit their growing family.
Never one to sit still for long, Joy pursued many hobbies to stay busy in her free time. She liked seeing movies and theater shows, and she often took her children along with her. Joy was a lifelong avid reader and her love of music and singing followed her everywhere. She had a wonderful memory for songs and often a single word would invoke the perfect tune to sing or play. Joy also enjoyed Bingo, quiz shows, and card games, including Euchre, Pinochle, and Rummy. Interesting enough, Joy never learned to drive! Luckily, she truly enjoyed the exercise of walking to her favorite places, even if it meant walking along busy roadways.
During the last eight years of her life, her eldest child, Dennis, returned to Kalamazoo and looked after Joy. She was appreciative and knew she was blessed to have his companionship and care during her twilight years of life. She also knew it was a special gift that many parent child relationships are not privileged or strong enough to share.
As her family and friends can attest, Joy Adams truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times. A loving wife and mother, Joy was proud to watch her family tree grow to include so many loved ones who brought her such fulfillment and happiness. She was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others, and she was a friend to many and deeply loved by all. Though she will be dearly missed, Joy leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Joy Adams, of Kalamazoo, Age 96, died on March 20, 2023. Joy was preceded in death by her husband, Virgil; daughter, Nancy Dugenski; grandson, Taylor Pierce; siblings: Lester Brown, Ken Brown, Horace Brown, and Udine McKenzie. Surviving are her children: Dennis Adams, Candy (Mike) Pierce, Janet (Terry) Grevious, Keith (Cheryl) Adams, and Carol Collins; 16 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Please join us at a Life Story Visitation on Sunday, March 26, from 4-6 PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900. A Prayer Service will begin at 6 PM. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday, March 27, at 11 AM at St. Monica Catholic Church with a luncheon to follow in the church hall. Burial at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Visit Joy’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project.