Joyce Grace (Gauthier) Stevens was born August 25, 1926 to Harold and Elsie Gauthier in Rugby, N.D. She was the second born of eight children. In Williston, the Gauthier family ran a dairy farm. The family business was called Gauthier’s Guernsey Dairy. Joyce and her sisters helped deliver the milk and were known locally as the ‘milkmaids’ to their high school friends.
Joyce graduated from high school as Salutatorian of her class. She and her best friend, Jean (Mickey) McDonough, spent their first year out of school at home, working at the local bank as bookkeepers. The following autumn, Joyce and Mickey set out for college at the University of Minnesota, attending one semester at the Institute of Technology. They didn’t really know what they were going to be studying, but they signed up for a chemistry class. The big city and large classes were overwhelming. After a semester, they transferred to the University of Montana instead, feeling more at ease. The girls studied Pharmacy during their time at UM. Their chemistry teacher was pleased they were ahead of everyone else, a result of that tough chemistry class in Minnesota.
Joyce met her future husband, Stanford Kent (Stan) Stevens as a sophomore in 1947. It was a blind date, a party, put on by their sorority and fraternity, Sigma Kappa and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon houses. They were married during their senior year in college, Oct. 18, 1948. To this union were born five children: Michael Kent, Julie Anne, Patrick Blake, Stanford Mark, and Kelly John.
Joyce earned a B.S. degree in Pharmacy from the University of Montana in 1949. The young family lived in Butte for 5 years, and then moved to Billings. In 1955, the family moved into the home where Stan and Joyce continued to live together for 64 years. The house was on the edge of town at the time. Behind the house where the cemetery now sits, there was a huge dirt hill and a small ditch. The area was dubbed ‘Apache Point’ by the neighborhood kids, who used to spend their days playing baseball, catching mice and snakes, riding their horses, and using their imaginations. The children also joined the swim team at the YMCA. Joyce returned to work when her children were older and worked many years at Juro’s Pharmacy, Ricker Drug, and then Pharmacy 1.
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She retired at age 75. Joyce and Stan had many ups and downs as all families do, but through it all, they taught us to persevere, love unconditionally, forgive, and smile in the face of adversity. Our family has enjoyed many wonderful times together, too numerous to mention. Because of them, we have learned the importance of a good work ethic in life. Joyce and Stan have been steadfast. They have accepted family tragedy and triumph with overwhelming dignity. Consequently, they have built a family of great character.
Joyce passed away in her home peacefully on Sept. 4. She was preceded in death by an infant brother; her parents; her son, Pat; her sister, Jean; and her brother Jack. She is survived by her beloved husband of nearly 71 years, Stan; her children: Mike (Sioux), Julie (Ben), Mark (Kate), Kelly (Terrie); sisters: Marion, Yvonne, Patty (Harold), and her brother Bud (Gail). She had many grandchildren, whom she loved with all of her heart: Kevin (Tera), Kris (Marji), Kacey (Scott), Sarah (John), Bessie (Kurt), Harrison, Amanda (Colt), Kara (Jamey), Buea (Courtney), Vanessa, Stu (Kelly), and Jessica (Rusty). She loved her great-grandchildren and appreciated every visit from: Dillon, Logan, Juliann, Connor, Aydin, Emily, Sawyer, Isabelle, Kobe, Taylor, Elsie, Annabelle, Tucker, Hailey, Jasmine, Alice, Amelia, Tate, Bentley, Blake, Porter, Channing, Everly, Ike, and Piper. Joyce is also survived by daughter-in-law, Wonda Norman, Jim (Kim) Cunningham, and her life-long friend, Jean McDonough.
Our family would like to extend much appreciation to Erica Bruen, M.D., Helen Laferriere, N.P., and Deb, R.N. Deepest gratitude to Betsy LaRue, Maggie Peterson and baby Theo, Brittney Adams and her daughters, and Alyvia and Finnley for the excellent love and care they provided to our mom and grandma. She loved you like family. Cremation has taken place. A vigil will be held at St. Pius X Church, 717 18th Street West, in Billings, Montana on Thurs., Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. Memorial service Sept. 20, 11 a.m., at St. Pius X. Interment of ashes will follow at the adjoining Calvary Cemetery Columbarium. Please join us for a luncheon after services at the church.
Memorials may be made to Tumbleweed; Homeless Education, c/o Education Foundation, 415 N 30th St., Billings, MT 59101; or St. Labre Indian Mission. Arrangements are in the care of Dahl Funeral Chapel and memories may be shared at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com