B. Brenda JoyceJanuary 15, 1930 ~ July 22, 2017 (age 87)
B. Brenda Lewis Williams Joyce, the seventh child of Bessie Anne Christopher Lewis and Connor Reuben Lewis departed this life at home on Saturday, July 22, 1922. She was born on January 15, 1930 in Bowling Green, Virginia. She excelled in academics at an early age and graduated from high school at the age of 16 years as Valedictorian of her class. She initially attended Virginia Union University on a scholarship, but she had to leave early due the critical illness of her mother. After her mother’s death, she continued her education and became a member of the Nu Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. in 1950 at Virginia Union University and later became a member of its graduate sponsor chapter, Alpha Phi Zeta. Dr. Joyce earned a PhD from Southeastern University in 1977 and later served as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at George Washington University for many years.
B. Brenda Lewis was married to Master Sergeant Robert N.Williams in 1951. He was killed in active duty in Munich Germany in 1963and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. She returned to the states after his death to raise their three children, Nathaniel R. Williams, Cynthia B. Williams, and Babette D. Williams. In 1968, she married Samuel R. Joyce. Although the marriage ended in divorce, they remained friends until his passing in 2013.
Dr. Joyce worked as a school teacher in the District of Columbia schools and became a Vice Principal in 1975. Dr. Joyce was also active in numerous civil rights and political organizations. She was a Golden Life Heritage Member of the NAACP and held the position of Administrative Vice President of the Montgomery County Branch for many years. She also later served as a Vice President in the Caroline County NAACP. Dr. Joyce served as a policy advisor to numerous Maryland State Officers and Federal Congressmen over the years and attended three Rose Garden Ceremonies involving the signing of new legislation with which she involved at the White House. She was a Life Member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Joyce was also an entrepreneur. She began purchasing apartment buildings in the District of Columbia in 1972, eventually owning a total of 14 buildings in the Northeast and Northwest quadrants of the city. In 1975, Dr. Joyce started a nursery school in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. She marketed her learning center to local families as well as government workers, who needed affordable quality primary education for their children. The BeJay Learning School became one of the feeder schools for the Catholic School System in the District of Columbia after her first class of graduates posted scores that were well above average. Dr. Joyce later founded BeJay Enterprises in 1977 as a means of connecting her various financial and political endeavors. It is still in existence today as a lasting legacy of her accomplishments.
Most importantly, Dr. Joyce was a woman of deep faith. She became a Christian at an early age and let God use her in many ways. She taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School throughout the course of her life in all of the churches which she attended. She became a member of First Baptist Church in 1963 and became one of the first female Trustees. She later attended and became a Trustee at Purity Baptist Church. Upon her move back to her home city of Bowling Green Virginia, she re-affiliated with her family’s home church of First Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Sparta Virginia as well as St Charles Baptist Church in Milford, Virginia. At First Mt. Zion Church, she established a scholarship fund in honor of her mother, who had also been a member of the church.
Dr. Joyce goes to her heavenly home leaving behind: her daughters Cynthia Bonita Williams and Babette D. Williams; her niece Thelma Dillard and husband Kenneth; her nephew Clinton Fells and wife Penny; her daughter-in- law Meta Williams; her grandchildren Shawna Williams, Natalie Williams, Donita Joyner, Donne Lee Joyner Jr, and Elijah Williams; and a host of cousins, nieces and nephews and great grandchildren. Some special people who must also be recognized are the “children of her heart:” daughters Diana Pugh and Mary Vines and Godsons Xavier Lyons and Timothy Butler; her devoted caregivers Assetou Diakite, Latifha Taylor, Natashia Bullock and Falencia Speaks; Teedo Ataarawa – her little protector and the entire Jefferson-Butler family and their extended family and friends who extended care and love to her throughout her life and illness.