ForeverMissed
Joyce Worley Vandegrift, age 80, of Hebron Ohio passed away March 13 of Covid pneumonia. Joyce was exceptional! She didn’t know a stranger. She was a mentor to so many. She lit up a room upon her entry.

Incredibly gifted in identifying the unique needs of a child, her 32 years as an elementary school teacher made a memorable difference in so many lives. She began her teaching career in Missouri, then taught in Illinois and Kentucky, and concluded teaching 3rd graders for 15 years at Jefferson Elementary in Gahanna Ohio.

In 2015 while visiting her favorite Chinese restaurant, Joyce met and befriended the owner’s 5-year old daughter Jessica, who did not speak English. On the next visit, Jessica approached Joyce and, pointed at her month, eyes, & ears, and spoke those words. When Joyce learned Jessica was about to start Kindergarten, she went to the principal and offered to work with Jessica a couple days per week. Through singing, playing games and, of course, teaching, Joyce taught her English. By the end of her second year, Jessica was one of the top students in her class. 

An active member of Stonybrook Church since she & Dick moved to Gahanna in 1985, Joyce's first calling (no surprise) was with those indelible children exploring life, learning, and experiencing Christianity. During the past 35 years, Joyce has cultivated a relationship with nearly every child she’s met at church, at home, and in the neighborhood.   

Not only did Joyce work with the elementary children at Stonybrook Church, she and Dick also led an annual Marriage Enrichment Class for 34 years culminating in 127 participating couples. And she always said she learned more from the participants than they did from her!  

Among Joyce’s most meaningful experiences has been mentoring a Young Moms' group at Stonybrook. She experienced so much joy from these women, especially when she met their kids.

Joyce and Dick retired in 2000 and built a home on Buckeye Lake in Harbor Hills.  Both continued to be extremely active at Stonybrook, in their Harbor Hills neighborhood and with countless other organizations.

Joyce believed everyone should “be the hands and feet of Jesus". If you knew her, you were welcome at her table. And, boy could she cook!   

Born and raised in Fairfield Illinois, she is preceded in death by her parents Katie & Arch Worley and an older brother Bill.  Joyce is survived by her husband Dick; older brother Don (& Marilyn) Worley; sister in law Karlene Worley; son Stephen (& Linn) Preston; daughter Melissa (& Greg) Schwalbach; daughter Allyson (& Steve) Parker; stepdaughter Marque (& Michael) Preininger; stepson Rick (& Janet) Vandegrift; and 11 grandchildren & one great grandchild. 

A Celebration of Life will be scheduled at Stonybrook Church when all are able to hug unmasked, likely this Summer. In lieu of flowers, the family would encourage contributions to Licking County Coalition for Housing or Stonybrook UMC. Joyce always had a passion for the good works of these two organizations.

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Posted by James Kaplan on March 29, 2021
Joyce was truly special. I just finished posting memorable pictures and came away with a huge regret. Dick & Joyce were days away from their 38th anniversary. Year after year, they were so warm and welcoming, always inviting us to Buckeye or Florida. Lesson learned, life is short, do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. RIP Joyce - I love you. Carolyn loved you more than you can imagine.
Posted by Jan Burton on March 29, 2021
Dear Dick and Family,
 I remember meeting Joyce 35 years ago as she was setting up her 3rd grade classroom at Jefferson Elementary, as a fresh hire. She just kind of waltzed in and made us feel like we'd known her for years. Loved her wit and her big heart. I think she made us all feel like we were her best friends. Joyce loved to share good books, good recipes and good times.  Dick, thank you for being an honorary member of the Jugs when we'd show up at your place on the lake and you'd make us so welcome. You both were quite a team!
So hard to imagine her not being with us. So much to love about Joyce-y!  Will so miss her. Rest in peace, friend.
Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers,
Jan Burton
Posted by Jayne Poches on March 29, 2021
I taught with Joyce at Jefferson. She always had a smile on her face and a laugh was just following. Joyce always thought the learning of children was a timing project. Each child learned at their own time. I remember she said tomatoes ripen in their own time...so do children. RIP Joyce.
Posted by reta mathews on March 28, 2021
Joyce and I have been friends since we were
two years old, we text or talked everyday.
We went through the good times and difficult times but we were always there for
each other
She was a joy and a foodie, most of my recipes are in her handwriting with many side notes of her improving the recipe, that was Joyce. I loved her like a sister.
She enjoyed her books, children, food and family. Rest in Peace dear friend. Reta
Posted by Betsy Hussey on March 28, 2021
Joyce welcomed me to Jefferson with a hug and an inspirational notepad for my desk. Always giving to her students, to my program, to parents, and always with a smile, well sometimes, there was a side comment that made me laugh! I am thankful that you were out in my life path. Blessings and prayers to your family.
Posted by Ruth Storvick on March 28, 2021
A remarkable lady and a very precious sister-in-law. A wonderful addition to the Vandegrift family. I will miss Joyce.
With love and prayers, Ruth Vandegrift Storvick
Posted by Mary Beth Rush on March 28, 2021
Joyce belonged to a very special group of women with whom she taught at Jefferson Elementary. We call ourselves The Jugadores or "Jugs" for short (the story and reason for another time, perhaps the Memorial). We were a group of seven who got together many times a year at her beautiful resort at Buckeye Lake, at Susan Harbage's cabin, or to meet at a local restaurant just to laugh and share good times. The "Jugs" will so miss her generosity, the book sharing, and the love and laughter that she brought to our group. Here's a toast to our dear Joycey until we meet again.
Posted by Steve Montgomery on March 28, 2021
So loved working with Joyce all those years at Jefferson. Remember she introduced herself to me by saying just remember that Joyce starts with Joy.
Posted by Lowell-Joan Johnson on March 28, 2021
So True! So Precious! Always a Thinker, a Reader, a Mentor, an Advocate, a Friend!! We will miss you, Dear Heart, and thank you for the light you brought to our Dear Dick, and to the whole Family!! Until we all meet Again...
Love Always,
Joan&Lowell & Family

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Recent Tributes
Posted by James Kaplan on March 29, 2021
Joyce was truly special. I just finished posting memorable pictures and came away with a huge regret. Dick & Joyce were days away from their 38th anniversary. Year after year, they were so warm and welcoming, always inviting us to Buckeye or Florida. Lesson learned, life is short, do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. RIP Joyce - I love you. Carolyn loved you more than you can imagine.
Posted by Jan Burton on March 29, 2021
Dear Dick and Family,
 I remember meeting Joyce 35 years ago as she was setting up her 3rd grade classroom at Jefferson Elementary, as a fresh hire. She just kind of waltzed in and made us feel like we'd known her for years. Loved her wit and her big heart. I think she made us all feel like we were her best friends. Joyce loved to share good books, good recipes and good times.  Dick, thank you for being an honorary member of the Jugs when we'd show up at your place on the lake and you'd make us so welcome. You both were quite a team!
So hard to imagine her not being with us. So much to love about Joyce-y!  Will so miss her. Rest in peace, friend.
Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers,
Jan Burton
Posted by Jayne Poches on March 29, 2021
I taught with Joyce at Jefferson. She always had a smile on her face and a laugh was just following. Joyce always thought the learning of children was a timing project. Each child learned at their own time. I remember she said tomatoes ripen in their own time...so do children. RIP Joyce.
Recent stories
Shared by Carol Brockway on March 30, 2021
Time spent with Joyce was always a delightful experience.  Once, when my oldest grandson was visiting and playing outside, Joyce walked by and stopped to talk to him.  He was only three, but she had a very interesting conversation with him and often, even years later, would ask about him.  I will greatly miss this caring friend

Such a positive, loving presence!

Shared by Karie Gregory on March 29, 2021
Through my parents connection to Dick and Joyce, I've known her all of my adult life. From hosting a bridal shower for me over 30 years ago, to keeping our baby son overnight for us so we could catch up on our sleep as new parents, to having us and our teenage boys over for a day on the lake, Joyce epitomized gracious, smiling hospitality with a core of no-nonsense, genteel steel that refused to take no for an answer! Her loving, non-judgmental leadership in the marriage class that Tom and I took from them has always stuck with us. To be in her presence was to feel seen and valued. There truly was nobody else like her. She'll be so very, very missed.