Joyce Harriet Anderson

April 3, 1923 — December 26, 2014

Joyce Harriet Anderson

Joyce Harriet Anderson, 91, Lutheran Pastor’s wife and former missionary to East Africa, died after a long illness on Friday, December 26, 2014, surrounded by family and loved ones at Autumn Leaves Memory Care Center, Suwanee, Georgia.

Born April 3, 1923, to Harry Walter Wenstrom and his wife, Minnie Ovidia Ellingson Wenstrom, Joyce grew up in southern Minnesota in the town of St. James.  Joyce was active in school activities and athletics, was a member of First Lutheran Church,  played the piano and sang in the choir.  After graduating from St. James High School, she attended the University of Minnesota.  She came home from college one weekend and met her future husband, Paul Anderson.  He saw her from across the street and in his own words, he “fell in love with her,” as she washed her father’s car.

Joyce and Paul married in 1943 after his ordination as a Lutheran Pastor. Together they raised a family of five lively daughters with warmth, caring and humor.  Joyce taught her girls to love the Lord, love life and love learning.  She taught them to love music, and the Anderson household resonated with song.  She also taught them to love reading and storytelling, a lifelong avocation that they shared with the people around them.

In 1946, the family was called to the mission field in Tanzania, East Africa, and with their infant daughter, they answered the call in the spring of the year.    Paul served as Headmaster of Kinampanda Training School under the auspices of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Augustana Lutheran Church, while  Joyce handled the challenge of being a missionary wife and making a home for her family in an inhospitable land.   She flung herself into their African life and its rugged conditions with the same passion and energy she brought to everything she did.  

Two of her daughters were born in Africa under less than ideal conditions.  She taught by example to be resilient and self-sufficient and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances.  Some of her African memoirs were published in the book, “Touched by the African Soul.”

In 1951, Joyce’s growing family left Foreign Service and began the life of serving congregations in the U.S.  Their first American church was in Waturbury, Connecticut, where a fourth daughter was born.  In 1954, they were called to Augustana Lutheran Church, Queens, New York, where a fifth daughter entered the family.  It was apparent that all Joyce’s girls had strong wills and strong opinions, just like their mother.  She taught them many useful life skills while supporting each of them to pursue their own interests.

In 1960, the family was called to Immanuel Lutheran Church, Miami, Florida. Joyce worked with the Lutheran Refugee Committee dealing with the influx of Cuban refugees during the 1960’s and assisting Haitian refugees long before the world knew about their plight.   She was also part of the interdenominational Miami Christian Community Service agency, working diligently to help the Miccosukee Indians living in the Everglades.  She was a major player in the life of her congregation and her community for many years.

In 1978, Paul and Joyce retired from the ministry and split their time between homes in Hiawassee, Georgia and Fort Pierce, Florida.  Joyce continued her volunteer work and enjoyed having time to help raise a new generation of grandchildren.

Survivors include daughters Pamela (James) Martindale of Sky Valley, Georgia, Judith (James) Anderson of Duluth, Georgia, Wendy (Nelson Gonzalez) Anderson of Winter Park, Florida and Heidi Grayson of Lawrenceville, Georgia.  Other survivors include sisters-in-law Louise Olson, Jule Baetz and Joan Anderson, brother-in-law Rev. Richard Froehlig, and nine grandchildren, eleven great- grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Joyce is preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Rev. Paul Elmer Anderson, daughter Gail Frances Anderson, granddaughter Beverly Gail Jones, parents Harry and Minnie Wenstrom, in-laws Rev. George N. and Annette Anderson, brothers-in-law  Mark Anderson, Rev. Leroy Anderson, Rev. Joseph Anderson, Rev. Philip Anderson, Rev. Howard Olson, Reuben Baetz, sisters-in-law Dorothy Anderson, Grace Anderson Froehlig, Dzidra Anderson and Jane Anderson.

Following cremation, a Committal Service and Interment will be held later at First Lutheran Church, St. James, Minnesota.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, gifts in memory of Joyce H. Anderson be given to: Alzheimer’s Association, 41 Perimeter Center East, Suite 550, Atlanta, Georgia 30346. Banister Funeral Home of Hiawassee, Georgia in charge of arrangements.
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