Marian Joyce Drake, 92 of Onsted passed away peacefully Wednesday, October 26, 2022, while being comforted by her husband and surrounded by her loving family. In the blink of an eye, 53 hours, she went from urgent care to earning her wings. She was born on December 9, 1929, to George and Mildred Tilden and was the oldest of five siblings. Joyce was a loving wife and is survived by her husband Hugh; siblings, Chuck and Bill Tilden and Gloria (Steve) Rainey of Arizona; her children Rob (Pat), Kathy (Carlton) Bosse, Tom, and Joe (Sandy) of Arizona; grandchildren Addam of New York, Nate (Kristi), Brian (Nora), Brent, Kayla (Adam) Wilson, Jacob Bosse, Alan, Cal (Fiancée Ashlee Garrido) of California and Ashley Drake. There are seven great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Wayne and (Ruth) Tilden; sisters-in-law, Ruth Ann, Sherry, and Carol; her husband’s parents, Herald J. and Erma Drake; Hugh’s brother, Elwyn (Helen) Drake; sister, Jean (Leonard) Harsh and nieces and nephews. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother and is universally known as “Grandma Joyce” her name resonates with many others from far away. She made it a point to tell every child she met to call her “Grandma Joyce.” Her mothering nature impacted lives all the way to Chile, South America. She shared her home Maria Elena Benavente who was an exchange student and Maria’s sister Pilar Flager of Onsted. Both have always called her “Mom”!
Joyce loved sharing local community history, and everyone loved hearing her life stories. A few favorites included the depression times, WW II, stories about local Indian Chiefs and tribes, and early childhood school days. She worked at the local Cambridge Junction Inn and waited tables in Onsted at “The FARM” for Mrs. Kelly the owner, who frequently provided a slice of homemade pie for her soon-to-be husband Hugh. Locals now might recognize this building in Onsted as the restored and refurbished Greenleaf Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
Hugh and Joyce were married on September 18, 1948. Two months after Hugh and Joyce, with only love and hope, purchased the family farm from Hugh’s parents Herald and Erma Drake. Hugh’s grandfather, Laverne Drake first owned the farm in 1898 located on Brix Highway and Little Stony Lake. Hugh and Joyce have happily lived there together for 74 years.
She was a Boy Scout Den Mother, a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Onsted Post 550, she served as a Cambridge Township Clerk and on the Cambridge Township planning commission.
Joyce was actively serving at St. Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church at Cambridge junction. She was eight years old when she attended her first service. She later taught as a Sunday and summer Bible school teacher became a Lay Reader and served on the Alter Guild, Vestry, Eucharistic minister, and with the Ladies Aid Group. For many years she was a Grey Lady at Maple Lane Manor an assisted living facility.
Her Irish family heritage inspired her to contribute historically to local groups like the “Oh These Irish Hills” and Friends of the Walker Tavern. Some may recall her as the Irish Hills Story Lady on the local Peoples Channel reading stories to children on TV. Always active she traveled to Hawaii, took a cruise to Alaska, and toured Ireland where she kissed the Blarney Stone.
Joyce dreamed of a nursing career to care for people in need. She fulfilled this dream by caring for the family with home remedies and haircuts in the farmhouse kitchen. This in turn inspired others to fulfill their dreams. She sewed swaddle blankets for babies and lap blankets for the elderly. Many others knew her for the thousands of crocheted bookworms she provided for over 20 plus years to the Onsted School Accelerator Reading Program. She helped with HOSTS (Help One Student to Succeed). Her life was filled generously with kindness and love.
Joyce was an avid Detroit Tigers Fan at heart. While attending a game in Florida with her son, he was lucky enough to get a souvenir baseball. The Tigers would allow kids, if accompanied by a parent, to get signatures after the game. On that day she noticed a dejected local youngster who had been turned away from the signing event. Joyce quickly invited him to walk in with her and her own son to get signatures from the 1968 championship team. Later in 1984, she was struck in the back by a foul ball by Chet Lemon. He offered his apology by signing the baseball. It might be a coincidence, but each of those years the Tigers went on to win the Pennant. Joyce was a champion of life.
Grandma Joyce, God has chosen you now, but while you were here with us you served him and everyone so well. Thank you for touching our lives with your love and caring heart.
A service and celebration of life will be held on Sunday, November 20, location and details will follow.
Contributions in her name can be made to the Onsted Community School Foundation, P.O. Box 220, Onsted, MI. 49265.