Mary Joyce Lemma was welcomed into the Gates of Heaven by the King of Kings on Thursday, July 13, 2023. She died peacefully in her home filled with family. Joyce was born on March 4, 1930, in Beeville, Texas to Hillary Alman and Katie Bell (Taylor) Swinney. She graduated from A. C. Jones High School in 1947, and studied bookkeeping and typing at Draughan’s Business College in San Antonio, Texas in 1948.
Joyce married the love of her life, her guiding star, Schley Dee Lemma, on August 21, 1948. They had the most beautiful marriage of 52 years, living in Corpus Christi, Brownwood, San Antonio, and later, back in Corpus Christi. They were amazing role models for their children. They truly lived a love story for all to see. Their children loved the way they loved each other.
Joyce worked for Dr. A.E.Rath in San Antonio as a secretary until the family moved to Corpus Christi. After the move, she was employed by Tuloso-Midway ISD where she held positions including secretary, librarian and paraprofessional until her retirement in 1990, after 20 years of service to TMISD. After her retirement, Joyce enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.
Joyce was the glue that held the family together—loving each individual in her own special way. Losing Schley so early was a crushing blow, and shortly afterward, Joyce lost her only son, “Sparky” which she described as such a deep, deep pain. But through it all, her children marveled at her strength and determination to go on with life. Rather than withdrawing and spending her remaining days in her house, Joyce was always up for an adventure with her kids or friends. She had the wittiest sense of humor—always bouncing a well-timed zinger or a comical one-liner at one of her children.
Joyce stayed involved at Tuloso-Midway Baptist Church where she served as church librarian for over 33 years, and a nursery worker/children’s church for more than 20 years. It is believed Joyce was the oldest active church member of her congregation. She served her God in her way with her gifts whether it be putting up a bulletin board or serving on one committee or another through the years. Joyce truly enjoyed being a member of the Three Amigos/Three Stooges/Three Musketeers with Naomi Bradley and Claire Hamilton. The three were the greatest of friends.
As a mother, Joyce sacrificed time, conveniences, and comforts to make sure her children were cared for. She always put her family first before herself. She was the most unselfish, caring, generous, kind-hearted person. She was a beautiful mother who gave grace and love to anyone she met and to those who came into her home
Her grandchildren and great grands were the light of her life. Because she loved her family around her, she hosted the best July 4th fun at the Corpus Christi State Aquarium, the perfect Christmas Eve Celebrations and many other family gatherings throughout the years which fostered wonderful memories for her family. She talked baseball with her grandsons and books with her granddaughters. She always had a great book to read to her Little Grands, and could carry on the deepest conversations with a two-year-old.
She was the perfect grandmother to all of her grandchildren. "Nana" is a term for royalty in her family.
Her children rise up and call her blessed…Proverbs 31:28
Joyce is survived by her daughters, Cindy (David) Axt, Robin Sellman, and Amy (Bob) Medina; daughter-in-law, Sandra Lemma; grandchildren—Jeremiah Axt, Toni Sharum, Jamie Honerlaw, Hillary Hutchason, Nicolas Medina, Eli Medina, Ashlyn Medina, Anderson Crystostomos, and their spouses. Joyce was thrilled with the arrival of her three great-grandsons—Hunter Hutchason, Reid and Oliver Honerlaw.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Hillary Alman and Katie Bell (Taylor) Swinney; her husband, Schley Dee; her son, Schley Dee Jr--“Sparky”; siblings—Wayne Swinney, Marjorie Garner, Julia Long, LeRoy Swinney, Jess Swinney, Richard Swinney, Ramona “Dolly” Patzke, and Helen Ruth Emerich.
Pallbearers are David Axt, Jeremiah Axt, Robert Medina, Nicolas Medina, Eli Medina, Jon Hutchason, and Arvin Gowens
Honorary Pallbearers are Hunter Hutchason, Reid and Oliver Honerlaw.
For those wishing to commemorate Joyce’s life with a contribution, the family has suggested the Tuloso Midway Baptist Church, Corpus Christi or South Texas Children’s Home / STCH Ministries in Mineral, Texas. Give - STCH Ministries
Visitation will be held Wednesday, July 19, 5:00-7:00pm at the Sawyer-George Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, July 20, 12:30 pm, at the Tuloso Midway Baptist Church.