Joyce Maudine Sims Smart, 86, passed away peacefully on February 16th, 2019 to be with her Lord and reunite with her life-long love, Perry Victor “Vic” Smart.She had missed him immeasurably since he passed in September.

She was born on September 4th, 1932 in the tiny little Texas town of Walnut Bend, to James Talbert Sims and Nancy Ann Ivy Sims, and was the youngest of nine children.

In 1937, Joyce’s family added a cover to their truck, put all their belongings and some mattresses to sleep on in the back, and headed to California in search of the chance to make a better living. Crackers and peanut butter were the staple on the journey out with eldest brother Grady at the wheel. They were but one family in the famous Dust Bowl migration of the Great Depression that brought many to California from Texas and Oklahoma in search of employment in farming in the San Joaquin Valley.They first lived in a farm camp in Buttonwillow, and later moved to a camp in Tupman where Joyce had many happy days attending Elk Hills Elementary.

Residents of the farm camps were poor in possessions, but not in spirit and character. Joyce and the other kids in the camp played hide and seek and made their own games. They enjoyed the nightly bonfires as residents came outside in the evenings to talk and cool off. Camp members would pool resources and often make delicious homemade ice cream for impromptu ice cream socials. In the camps, not only the adults worked hard – Joyce and her siblings had to work in the fields too, hoeing and picking cotton.

When Joyce was a teenager, the family moved to the San Bernadino area where Joyce attended Colton High. Soon after graduating high school, she got a job as a telephone operator.She loved listening to Elvis and the Kingston Trio and hanging out and helping her big sister Mallie at her and her husband Bill’s Texaco gas station.

In 1954, Joyce re-connected with Vic Smart. The Sims and Smart families had known each other since Joyce and Vic were babies, and Vic always said that even when they were toddlers he knew Joyce was the love of his life. They were married in Yuma, Arizona on January 5th, 1955 and bought their first home during the same year for a whopping $8,000! Vic enrolled in barber school, and eventually opened his own shop.

Joyce and Vic had two children – Karen in 1962, and Gary in 1965.Over time, they also opened Smart Style Beauty Salon in Bloomington which Joyce managed, and Vic owned another small barber shop in Wrightwood, where the family moved in 1967.In 1972, the family settled in the town of Camarillo, where Joyce and Vic purchased a drive-in restaurant on Ventura Blvd named Frosty’s where the family worked together serving Vic’s one-pound Texas Burgers and all kinds of fountain treats.Once that business was sold, Vic went into sales and Joyce transitioned into supporting the family from home, making ends meet and working hard to take care of her children.She was devoted to her children – the kind of mom that drove on fieldtrips, brought cookies to the class and served as the Brownie Troop leader.She could be tough when needed too – she had a keen investigative mind and as teenagers we realized she could have been a detective as you could never hide anything from Mom.

In 1980, at the young age of 47, Joyce was involved in a devastating car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.There is a saying by Eleanor Roosevelt that a woman is like a teabag; you never know how strong she is until she is in hot water.Recovering from this accident is where Joyce really proved her strength.Her injury left her with a life that included daily pain that she faced bravely and hid from others.She relearned how to perform tasks and care for her home and family from a wheelchair, even learning to drive again solo using hand controls. She was a petite 100 pounds but she was the strongest person we knew.

In 1983, Joyce and Vic moved to Thousand Oaks where they transitioned into part-time work in property rentals and investments and soon-to-be work as grandparents extraordinaire when their first grandchild was born in 1985.

All who knew Joyce, knew of her love for her those in her life.She excelled as a mother, grandma, and more recently, great-grandma, and never let anyone leave her house hungry or without knowing that they were cherished.She was famous for her Mickey Mouse waffle breakfasts, building blanket “forts” for grandkids, and found joy in the everyday by gardening, writing poetry, scrapbooking and organizing family photos, catching up with phone calls and carefully selected Hallmark cards to family and friends, and keeping current on news and politics.

Joyce leaves behind her daughter, Karen (Smart) Finch and husband Kevin; son, Gary Smart and wife Wendy; grandchildren, Sierra (Smart) Sleeman and husband Richard, Jenna (Finch) Becker and husband Jurgen, Jonathan Finch and wife Robyn, and Olivia Smart; and great-grandchildren, Richard Sleeman and Royce Victor Sleeman (named after Joyce and Vic), and many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.

Joyce’s family is comforted in the knowledge that she is now walking again in paradise without pain alongside her husband, mom and dad, and eight siblings who all passed before her: Mallie (Sims) Smart, Grady Sims, Orville Sims, Louis Sims, Babe Sims, Oleta “Tommie” (Sims) Clouse, Dawson Sims and Val Sims.

The family wishes to especially thank our family of wonderful caregiver angels whose loving care helped Miss Joyce to remain independent in her beloved home on Quail’s Trail.

Joyce will be dearly missed.

A private family service is being planned to celebrate Joyce’s life.The family would be thankful if you would visit Joyce’s Memorial site at and share your stories and photos or just enjoy the ones shared there.

For those who would like to make a charitable donation, Joyce and Vic have supported the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).Donations can be made in her honor via the DAV website at:

Thank you to granddaughter Jenna Finch Becker for the assistance with this obituary.

Posted by Betsy Noll on September 7, 2020
September 7, 2020

Thinking of Joyce today. As the month of September begins, her birthday comes to mind, and I realize just how much I miss her and especially our chats on the phone. 

Thanks for putting this website up and keeping the memories alive.

Betsy Noll
Eau Claire, WI

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Betsy Noll on September 7, 2020
September 7, 2020

Thinking of Joyce today. As the month of September begins, her birthday comes to mind, and I realize just how much I miss her and especially our chats on the phone. 

Thanks for putting this website up and keeping the memories alive.

Betsy Noll
Eau Claire, WI

Recent stories

From Jack and Janet (niece) Stahl

Shared by Karen Finch on April 7, 2019

We will miss Aunt Joyce so much.  We became good friends over the years and enjoyed talking about so many different things.  We really had fun comparing notes after watching certain TV shows like "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars."  We always agreed who the winner would be and most times we were right!

Joyce was so thoughtful.  She knew how special butterflies are to me and always made it a point to send me birthday cards with beautiful butterflies on them.
Joyce loved to bake.  She once described to me brownies she had baked to take to Karen and Kevin's for a family holiday.  By the time she was through telling me what all she had put in the brownies, I could almost taste them!  I sure wished I was going to that party!
We have a framed stichery hanging on our bedroom wall that I read every morning.  It means so much to me and it reads...."When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure."  Joyce will always be a memory to treasure to all who knew and loved her.
Rest in peace dear friend.


Janet and Jack

From Maxine Connor, lifelong friend

Shared by Karen Finch on March 8, 2019

Just want to share special times with Joyce. We  talked of memories we had during our "grapes of wrath" years during depression time.Joyce lived in Calif & I lived in 
Kansas but shared same memories. Homemade ice cream, water from wells & 
pumps. Friends just dropped by unannounced on their Sunday afternoon 
drives. No refrigerators to keep a supply of food on hand  but our 
mothers worked miracles & no one left hungry even when money was so 
scarce!  Company always had a place to sleep even if just a sheet or 
blanket on the ground & us kids always loved it!

 Joyce & I LOVED to go to TV tapings at different stations that 
taped in Hollywood area & don't think we missed a one. I remember one 
trip...I had worked all night 11 pm to 7 am  and Joyce picked me up and I slept 
all the way down.  We saw "Welcome Back Kotter" . Joyce was such a true 
friend to me.

From Jenna Becker, Granddaughter

Shared by Jenna Becker on March 7, 2019

Mickey mouse waffle breakfasts, elaborate blanket forts in the living room, summer days in the pool that seemed to stretch on forever, hours spent converting cereal boxes into doll houses covered in cut-out magazine clippings, plays and dress-up sessions spurred on by boxes of Grandma’s dresses and wigs (much to Jon’s demise), endless trips to See’s Candy and the Oaks Mall, the smell of fudge being made before Christmas, carefully chosen holiday cards filled with thoughtful messages and personalized poems, chicken and egg salad sandwiches. All memories of a childhood spent at Grandma’s.

Even when I was young, I can remember marveling at Grandma and her quiet, resolute strength.For someone who was confined to a wheelchair, she refused to compromise on her independence – always cooking elaborate meals, giving Grandpa a run for his money, driving a car using hand controls and even riding the rides at Disneyland. For someone as shy and modest as she was – she never let that prevent her from doing the things that were most important to her.While she often made it known that she loathed being confined to a wheelchair, I only ever knew her that way, and she seemed to do just about everything that everyone else did with a little added effort.

As I transitioned into my teenage years, I became even more acutely aware of her steadfast resilience, and she became a clear role model for persevering through hard times. She taught me that while we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always push to overcome them to the best of our ability.She taught me to not take everyday things for granted, and I started to privately dedicate my cross-country races to her.Who was I to not give it my all, when I had two legs that worked and some people wished for those things every day?Today, I still often think of her when faced with hard things, and she provides immediate perspective.

As an adult, I’ll always remember Grandma for the unconditional love and support that she offered, and the degree to which she was able to find ways to relate to me.When I went to college, she applauded and made sure to continuously point out that she too wanted to study, but Grandpa wouldn’t let her because he was afraid the boys in her class would have a crush on her. When I transitioned into full-time work, she applauded again, being sure to mention that she too, wanted to pursue her own career as a young adult, but Grandpa wouldn’t let her because he was afraid that she might find a new boyfriend.And when I got married, she surprised me too by never asking when the great-grandchildren were coming, and instead always saying how she was proud that I was following my dreams and seeing the world.For someone who had so many of her own personal challenges, she was an expert at finding ways to relate to each of us, and always acted so impressed with whatever it was that we were doing at that point in our lives.

The impact of Grandpa’s loss on her life was clear and immediate. Despite their uncanny ability to bicker over the little things (often driving everyone else to the brink of insanity in the process) – they agreed on the big things – the importance of family, a love of politics and a shared view on religion.They were soul mates through to the end, starting life and ending life together. They lived through depressions, wars, accidents, heart attacks, care givers, hospital stays and more – and still came out the other side together. Though I miss them both terribly, I am comforted by the fact that they are together again – both free of pain and probably back to their age-old hobby of keeping each other on their toes. Their legacy lives on in the endless trove of memories they leave behind, and I know that we will all keep alive in their honor.

This is not goodbye – it’s see you later. Until then, happy trails Grandma (and Grandpa) – I love you both and miss you so much.