Life Story / Obituary
“A mother's love is a blessing no matter where you roam. Keep her while you have her, You'll miss her when she's gone.” —Frank McCourt.
Joyce McMullen Dark, age 90, passed away Saturday, October 12, 2019 at her home in Oshtemo surrounded by her very large and loving family.
Joyce was preceded in death by her husband Bill, and her brothers John and Tom McMullen. She is survived by her twin sister JoAnn Lee and her brothers Jim and Pete McMullen, seven children, 19 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
Born June 10, 1929, Joyce was raised in Saginaw and came from a tradition of large Catholic families. Both her father, Marcel Alexander “Mac” McMullen, and her mother, Marian Margaret Pearson, had seven brothers and sisters. Some of her happiest summers as a child were spent with her mother, sister and brothers in a cottage on Killarney Beach north of Saginaw, barefoot and carefree. Mac worked in town and came out on weekends.
After her mother Marian’s early death in 1941, Mac married Margaret Cadagan, who stepped in and later became “grandma” to a host of grandchildren. Joyce and JoAnn attended boarding school at Marywood Academy in Grand Rapids where they formed close friendships.
Wed to John William Dark in 1951 in Grand Rapids, the young married couple spent the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s in Kalamazoo and Portage raising kids. Joyce worked hard at home to support Bill’s successful and honorable law career. They enjoyed big family dinners around the table, popcorn nights, assisting and counseling their children through their various pratfalls (none too serious, fortunately), entertaining and playing cards with their many friends, and generally enjoying life.
Joyce’s life revolved around her family and she left a very large one, starting with her seven children: the “Dark Boys,” John (Jessica), Bruce, Steve (Nan), Dave (Carrie Klein), Tim (Sue Thraen), and Jim (Theresa), and at last a very welcome daughter, Anne Daniels (Dan). Her 19 grandchildren are Auncharee Wharton, Judy Flint, Michael Dark, Elizabeth Nwansi, Tim Dark, Caitlin Severin, John Dark, Emily Dark, Alex Dark, William Dark, Melanie Brantley, Lindsey Newton, Jared Daniels, Eric Dark, Lauren Dark, Shannon Dark, Sarah Daniels, Stephanie Dark, and Samantha Dark. In addition she left 14 cherished, great grandchildren.
Joyce loved reading (especially history and biography), travel, genealogy, collecting and creating amazing art. She was a lifelong Democrat while husband Bill was a Republican, prompting some lively Kennedy vs. Nixon discussions. She enjoyed her cocktails, white wine, Misty Blue 120s, good food, family videos, and keeping in touch with her far-flung family, whether by snail mail, email, or talking on the phone. She was a quick read of people and wise to the world, never interfered but would dispense advice when asked (more than one kid or grandkid regretted not taking it).
Her favorite country was by far Ireland but she also traveled to Europe, Russia, the Far East, the Caribbean, and even the tip of Patagonia. Usually she was accompanied by JoAnn, whom Joyce accused of snoring but who otherwise was an engaging travel companion and fellow Scrabble enthusiast. From her travels Joyce brought home keen and humorous observations ranging from German hausfraus scrubbing their front steps along the Rhine River (“I thought I was a good housekeeper until I saw that”) to the educational experience of falling down in Tiananmen Square (“They made such a fuss over me I was almost glad it happened”).
She was generous, sharing her good fortune and more than once helping out a family member or friend who needed it, which she never divulged, feeling as her husband did, “that’s what money is for.”
In her later years, as her health declined, Joyce was visited and attended by many family members but especially her daughter Anne and her son Dave, who live locally, her son Bruce—who stayed with her for five years—and her caregiver of three years, Amy Hicks. Joyce was stubborn and adamantly refused advice to consider a senior facility, wishing to remain at home. As usual, she got her way.
Private family services will be held at a later date to celebrate the lives of Joyce and her brothers, Tom and John.
We love you Joyce: daughter, sister, wife, mom, mother-in-law, grandma, great-grandma and friend. We will never forget you.
Contributions in Joyce’s memory can be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 222 N Kalamazoo Mall, #100, Kalamazoo, MI 49007. Phone 269.345.0273 or 800.304.0273.
(For more on Joyce’s family history and to see some great photos, visit her parents’ genealogy web site, marcelmarian.com.)