Obituary for Joyce Fitzgerald McMillan
Joyce Fitzgerald McMillan, retired elementary school teacher and long- time resident of Pulaski, Virginia, passed away at the age of 95 on May 14, 2023. She spent her last Mother’s Day at home in the loving company of family members.
Joyce (Martha Joyce Fitzgerald) was born on March 2, 1928, the eldest child of Cleveland Madison and Leola Ophelia Fitzgerald. She grew up in the mining community of Coalwood, West Virginia where she attended Big Creek High School and was active in the Thespian Society, marching band, and cheerleading. She graduated in 1946, less than a year after the end of World War II. After completing her freshman year at Mary Washington College, she married her high school sweetheart James Luther McMillan to start a family. They raised four sons and spent a life devoted to each other that spanned 75 years.
Joyce and Jim began their lives together on a rented farm in Browns Creek, West Virginia, eventually moving to Pulaski in 1951. While raising four rambunctious boys, Joyce resumed her education at Radford College where she graduated with honors and a degree in elementary education in 1967. She spent the next 25 years teaching fourth and fifth grade students at Northwood, Jefferson and Crizer Elementary Schools. She retired from her teaching career in 1991 to help care for an elderly family member.
Long after her retirement, Joyce would often cross paths with former students who would give her a hug and recall her as one of their “favorite” teachers. Her goodness of heart and playful nature made her a favorite with everyone who knew her. Nothing delighted her more than spending time with her young grandchildren who loved to hear her read dramatic renditions of classic children’s books. She would continue to swim with them at her beloved family retreat on the New River well into her 80’s. She was a good sport about the many practical jokes played on her over the years by her four sons and husband.
These pranks on Mom became legendary and were retold countless times to great laughter.
Joyce was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Pulaski and continued to faithfully listen to Sunday morning sermon broadcasts even after her advanced age prevented her from attending. She believed that true happiness came from service to others. Determined to stay vital and active in her later years, she spent her days in the kitchen with her son Bill making dessert breads to give to friends and acquaintances throughout the community. Her reward was bringing a smile to their faces. When she wasn’t in the kitchen, or at her chair reading a book, she could usually be found outside working in one of her flower beds.
Joyce is preceded in death by her husband, Jim McMillan; parents, Cleve and Leola Fitzgerald; brother, David Fitzgerald; brother, Jean Fitzgerald, and grandson Jaime McMillan.
Surviving family members include four sons and daughters-in-law: Jim and Barbara McMillan of Richlands, Va.; Dick and Monnie McMillan of Pulaski, Va.; Bill and Connie McMillan of Pulaski, Va., and Pat and Linda McMillan of Arnold, Md.; sister, Catherine Sowers of Pulaski, Va.; grandchildren, Micah McMillan of Ashville, N.C., Piper McMillan of Staunton, Va., Madison Proffitt of Morgantown, W.Va., Mahala Brien of Sevierville, Tenn., Josie McMillan of Boulder, Co., Luke McMillan of Pulaski, Va., Carey Rocha of Richmond, Va., Katie Jo McMillan of Philadelphia, Pa., Ry McMillan of Arnold, Md., Marco Warner of Richlands, Va., Dr. Brent Warner of Richlands, Va.; four great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on June 24 at 11:00 AM at the First United Methodist Church in Pulaski, Va. The service will be followed by a reception at the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, Pulaski, Va. in memory of Joyce McMillan.
Kathy Landis Raykes
May 23, 2023 @ 9:45 am
What a treasure Joyce has been in the lives of all who knew her; a wonderful wife, mom, friend, teacher, and s loving example of a life well-lived. I will be praying for the family in their grief.
May 23, 2023 @ 10:43 am
I remember Joyce as Dick and Jim’s mom. She was always sweet to a bunch of rough house boys. What a great life she has lived.
Roberta Stoots Epperley
May 23, 2023 @ 12:52 pm
As a young child Living close to her I got to know her well and spending time at her home. She was amazing lady with great smile. RIP sweet lady and know you were loved. Thoughts and prayers to the family 🙏🙏
May 23, 2023 @ 2:35 pm
Wonderful woman. Lovved her dearly. She will be sorely missed. Love to the whole family
May 23, 2023 @ 10:45 pm
Wow…. What a wonderful life and family!
And with her high school sweetheart!!
Didn’t have her as a teacher… but was blessed to call her friend. Memory was absolutely amazing. “You remember him/her, don’t you? They were such and such, had 3 brothers and I taught 2 of them.”…….
She made the BEST cream cheese pound cake I have ever tasted!!! Rest in peace sweet lady! Think of ALL the kiddos who welcomed their former teacher to Heaven!!!
May 23, 2023 @ 2:40 pm
What a very special woman this lady was. I admired her because she was always so sweet and kind. Her mother was a neighbor of mine on Mount Olivet Road. And I pray that some of you all got to taste her mother, Mrs Fitzgerald’s rolls. They were the best around. May God bless and keep every single family member that Joyce has left. What a beautiful family she had. Much love and prayers sent your way.
Janet Friend Murphy
May 23, 2023 @ 3:29 pm
Dear McMillan Family:
I was fortunate to have met your Mother at Chris and Chasity Stevens house. What a delightful woman. Spunky and mischievous comes to mind. I am so sorry for your loss and will keep you each in my prayers.
May 25, 2023 @ 9:48 pm
My brother and I both were in the Appalachian team at critzer back in the 80’s she was a favorite of both of ours she was a great teacher and you could tell she loved teaching and her students 🙏
Pam Chitwood Moore
May 23, 2023 @ 4:58 pm
Joyce was one of my favorite people of all my life. She was genuine, loving, giving and someone I respect. She will be missed by all …My condolences to all family members. Love, Pam Chitwood Moore
May 23, 2023 @ 8:31 pm
I loved Mrs. McMillan so much. She was a wonderful teacher. She and I both took piano lessons together with Mrs. Dunlap. She was a beautiful and kind lady. A great teacher and a wonderful person.
May 24, 2023 @ 12:50 am
DEAR JOYCE MCMILLAN LEFT HUGE FOOTSTEPS ON THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF SO VERY MANY…SHE WILL BE GREATLY MISSED…SUCH SADNESS FOR HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS, BUT HAPPY MEMORIES OF THE DAYS AND YEARS OF HER PRESENCE….
NOW SHE JOINS HER JIM…
(SHE MADE SUCH DELICIOUS BREADS, AND SHE SHARED…THANK YOU JOYCE MCMILLAN FOR TOUCHING OUR LIVES AND BEING A GRAND AND SPECIAL TEACHER TO MY SON…JAY SADLER…)
May 24, 2023 @ 8:50 am
Dear McMillan family — To read this obituary is to make me wish I had known Joyce McMillan better. Whichever one of you wrote these words, I say thank you for making me “see” Joyce McMillan. What an interesting and vibrant life she lived. Because I moved to Pulaski when I was 11, I missed the Northwood experience and the chance to have Mrs. McMillan as a teacher, but my brother Tom Vass had the pleasure of being in her class. But through my years in Pulaski, I was lucky to know her sons, particularly Jim and Dickie, and to know how fine they are. That legacy, her legacy, is beyond price, I think. I am thinking of the McMillan family with love. Janet Vass Sarjeant
May 27, 2023 @ 6:15 pm
There are a few people you are always going to remember, because of the wonderful things they do. We ate her pound cakes on many a river trip. She always had something on the stove and it was a treat every time. She was so gracious when you entered her home. Once I had a bag full Linde Truffles and gave her 5 of them to take home. I told her not to share them with anyone. Later I ask her if she enjoyed them. She “YES I DID” I ate them ALL before I got home.
There is a hole in the world right now because she is gone. It is OK! She will be replaced by someone just like her, then the world will back in balance. I hope someone names her Joyce!