Class of 1949
Norfolk - Joyce Overton Jonak, 80, passed away at home on May 10, 2013, of pancreatic cancer. She was surrounded, in death as in life, by her loving family.
Born July 18, 1932, to Jesse Herbert and Lucy Tribble Overton of Portsmouth, Joyce grew up in the Cradock community where she developed lifelong friendships in the neighborhood and her spiritual home, Cradock Baptist Church. An excellent student, she was valedictorian of her Cradock High class. After receiving a BA in Education from Radford College, she lived and taught in Richmond, Norfolk County, and Long Beach, California, where she married her beloved naval officer, LTJG William J. Jonak, Jr., also of Portsmouth. Returning to Tidewater in 1956, she and Bill raised their four children in the West Ghent home they have shared for more than 50 years.
Joyce was a cornerstone of her Norfolk neighborhood and an astute businesswoman, spending 30+ years as both teacher and director of West Ghent School, where several generations of local preschoolers and kindergartners began their educations. She was an active member of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, where she taught Sunday school and served on the Vestry, though she later found her way back to the Baptist church of her youth where she was active in Childrens' Church and many special activities. She wrote and directed dozens of children's plays and church pageants, many of which are still performed today. Her loyalty and enthusiasm for the Cradock community was shown by her membership and participation in the Cradock Admirals Retired, '49-'51, and as a supporter of the "Save The Afton Theatre" initiative. An active member of Alpha Sigma Tau, Alpha Lambda Chapter, she was recognized with the national award of Top Tau in 2013 by her beloved AST sisters. Joyce was a charter member of International Organization of Job's Daughters, Bethel No. 11, Cradock and numerous community groups and volunteer organizations including PTAs and scouting.
Joyce's proudest achievements, by far, were as a loving and devoted wife; a dedicated daughter; a cherished mother and grandmother; a caring and generous neighbor; and a true, funny, and spontaneous friend. She never met a stranger and welcomed all into her home and life with her warm heart, sparkling blue eyes and beautiful, bright smile.
Predeceased by her parents and brother Jesse H. Overton, Jr., Joyce leaves behind her devoted husband and best friend for 57 years, Bill; her four children, W. Gregory Jonak of Norfolk, Lorrie J. Luhring and Steve of Hampstead, NC, Amy T. Jonak and Mary Herald of San Rafael, Calif., and Lawrence O. Jonak and Amy of Suffolk; eight grandchildren, Chelsea, Emily (Nick), Garrett, Carter, Parker, Emmett, Riley, and Sophie; great-grandson, Cole; and many dear friends and relatives.
The family will receive friends on Monday, May 13, from 6:30-8 PM in Sturtevant Funeral Home, 5201 Portsmouth Blvd., Portsmouth 23701. Funeral services will be conducted at 1 PM Tuesday, May 14, at Cradock Baptist Church, 96 Afton Pkwy, Portsmouth, 23702. Services will be followed immediately by a brief reception at the church and interment at 3:30 PM in Olive Branch Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to Cradock Baptist Church. And, in keeping with a lifetime of service to others, Joyce asked that anyone wishing to honor her memory do so by performing an act of kindness in her name.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on May 12, 2013