Obituary: Joyce Marion Pyburn March 6, 1933 – May 25, 2016

JOYCE MARION PYBURN  March 6, 1933 May 25, 2016

Joyce Marion Pyburn of Los Alamos, New Mexico died in her home surrounded by her family and good friends, Tracy O’Grady and Joann Carlson on May 25, 2016. She was 83 years old.

Joyce is survived by her children Elaine Deschamp, Janet Cowan, and Tom Pyburn of Los Alamos; three grandchildren, Joshua Cowan, Daniel Deschamp, Jesse Deschamp (wife Cynthia) of Los Alamos; and four great grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her daughter Marion Pyburn, her brother Richard Olson of Lake Miltona, MN, and her parents Osborn Olson and Marion Olson of Hermantown, MN.

Joyce was born on March 6, 1933, in Duluth, Minnesota and was adopted into the Olson family. Joyce attended college at North Park University in Chicago, IL and San Jose State University in San Jose, CA studying English literature and Education. Joyce came to Los Alamos in 1957 with her husband Tom Pyburn, who was returning home to Los Alamos after serving in the Navy, and their first born daughter. They made their home in Los Alamos having three more children.

Joyce drove and managed one of the first Bookmobiles to travel the roads in northern New Mexico in the early 1960’s. She piled her four young children into her station wagon with stacks of books and read stories along the back roads of northern New Mexico, picking up books that had been loaned out the week prior, and loaning other books for the coming week. Joyce had a love of books of all kinds and very much enjoyed sharing that love with others.

Joyce became an “unofficial tour guide” whenever someone in Los Alamos had guests visiting who wanted to experience a tour of northern New Mexico. Due to her frequent book mobile trips up and around all the back roads, along with her adventurous personality, she truly was an expert on the area.

Joyce was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran church, and was active in church operations as well as synod activities and functions. Joyce was a founding member of Self Help Inc., an organization started to provide support of rural agricultural livelihood in Rio Arriba and Taos counties. Self Help expanded its outreach to include enhancing life skills and empowering individuals by providing programs and services that focus on developing self-reliance. Joyce retired as executive director of Self Help in 2001. Prior to working as executive director of Self Help Inc., Joyce worked for Santa Maria El Mirador for several years, commuting to Santa Fe, Alcalde, and Taos.

Joyce spent several years visiting the women’s state prison with a group of women from Bethlehem and Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on a regular basis. She would even surprise her family from time to time by bringing some of the prisoners’ home for a weekend visit. Joyce’s family never knew when they would come home to find a stranger in need on the living room sofa, or a lonely post doc who stopped by just to visit. Regardless of a person’s circumstance or life situation, Joyce made them feel welcome. Joyce could talk your ear off, but her conversations were always compelling, and she was always interested in what was going on in other people’s life. Joyce lived the golden rule, cared deeply about human dignity and she treated her fellow human beings honestly and with respect.

Joyce was very proud of her Norwegian descent. She was convinced that she was a direct decedent of “Erik the Red” and Leif Erikson, and she was not shy about telling people that. As for red or green, she preferred green. Joyce will be remembered for being the best tennis player who never picked up a racket, as a friend to many, and as an advocate for others. Always.

Memorial service will be held at a later date. The family of Joyce Marion Pyburn has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley. 505.747.7477 www.devargasfuneral.com.

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