Joy Nell Key Grubb started her life during the hard times of the Great Depression. Joy was aptly named by her parents, Lola Ray and Lenard Key. Throughout her life, she embodied her name and brought joy to her family and many friends. While still a baby, Joy’s family migrated to California in hopes of finding work, but eventually returned to be closer to their families near Wills Point, Texas. Life was a struggle and by the beginning of World War II, Joy’s family was separated when her father was sent to Panama. Her mother had to go to work in a candy factory, so Joy and her siblings were often split up to live with aunts and grandparents. Ray’s sisters, brothers and parents were a close-knit and loving family that took care of each other during the hardest of times.
As a young child, Joy enjoyed playing with her many cousins. She especially enjoyed making mud pies that looked so good she would try to eat them. Unfortunately, trying to eat mud may have given her typhoid fever. After she was diagnosed by their country doctor, her Uncle Billy and mother made the trip with Joy to a hospital in Dallas. They couldn’t disclose her preliminary diagnosis or they would have been turned away and Joy would have died. A week later, the hospital made the same diagnosis and Joy survived typhoid fever to share her memories of asking her favorite nurse if the hospital had frog legs on the menu and seeing the famous Dallas Pegasus out her hospital window. Interestingly, the 11-foot “Flying Red Horse” was placed on top of the city's first skyscraper, the Magnolia Building in downtown Dallas, the year Joy was born.
Despite Joy’s difficult beginnings in life, she had a great sense of humor and exuberant personality. Because of her family’s circumstances, she had to attend three different high schools. Her senior year was spent at Canton High School where she was voted Carnival Queen and Class Favorite. Having skipped a year in elementary school, she graduated high school before her 17th birthday. In addition to attending school, Joy and her siblings worked long hours in the café owned by her mother and step-father, Lawrence. With Joy working out front as waitress, hostess and main attraction, the café became the popular gathering spot in Canton. A frequent customer was a young man Joy remembered seeing walking down the street as a young girl. At the time, she had exclaimed that she wanted to marry that boy. In 1952, Joy’s prescience was confirmed when she did, indeed, marry that boy, Bill Grubb.
Bill Grubb absolutely loved and adored Joy. She was uniquely beautiful with her jet black hair and dark complexion. Any time a beauty contest was on television, Bill would tell their kids none of the women in the contests were as beautiful as their mother. Their kids agreed. Over forty years later, friends would comment on how Bill and Joy still looked at each other with so much love in their eyes.
Soon after their marriage, Bill was stationed in Japan for the Korean War. While Bill was overseas, Joy lived with her family in Canton and worked at the Van Zandt County Courthouse. After the war, Bill completed his Air Force service in Harlingen, Texas and Joy worked as a dispatcher for the Harlingen Police Department. Later, the couple moved to Dallas, so Bill could attend SMU and start his engineering career at Collins Radio. During this time, Joy worked at Southwestern Life in downtown Dallas.
Before the birth of her first child, Joy survived an ectopic pregnancy that had her seconds from dying. She didn’t let that experience or a miscarriage discourage her from creating the family she and Bill wanted. Joy subsequently gave birth to four children within a five year span. She happily became a full time mother and the Grubb Bunch was born.
The young family moved to Richardson, Texas where Joy and Bill were determined to provide the secure, happy and “normal” childhood neither of them had experienced. They succeeded in making all their children feel unconditionally loved and wanted. Joy and Bill, like most of their generation, started smoking cigarettes at a very young age and had trouble quitting the habit until their eldest son came home crying one day from elementary school. He had learned about lung cancer in class and was upset and embarrassed that his parents smoked cigarettes. Joy and Bill quit cold turkey that day.
Joy was active in PTA, Band Club, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls and even played short stop in the mother-son baseball games. She made sure she served as a school room mother for each of her kids. She was an active and life-long Democrat, yet, to her dismay, some of her best friends were Republican. She loved them anyway. By example, Joy and Bill instilled a sense of honesty, empathy and a social and moral conscience in each of their children. They taught their children to be open to new experiences. Everyone was to be treated equally and with respect and kindness. The Grubb home was always an open-hearted and welcoming place. No one was a stranger. Joy and Bill loved entertaining by telling stories and sharing their latest liqueurs with anyone stopping by the house.
Joy loved her friends. They shared a lot of fun times working together on the children’s activities. They had many parties and even organized the first Flag Day block party for the Highland Grove neighborhood in Richardson. If a friend had jury duty in Dallas, they would go as a group and enjoy lunch together downtown. They even took belly dancing as a group. The demonstrations were a real hoot. They got together for lunch on every birthday. At one of these birthdays, Joy spontaneously decided to belt out an operatic version of Happy Birthday. It was a hit and Joy was asked to continue the tradition for friends and family for the rest of her life. She did so with gusto.
Bill’s career at Collins Radio/Rockwell International provided his family their first opportunity to live in another country in 1973. The family moved to Paris, France. While there, Bill had to travel to other countries for periods of time, so Joy was often on her own with her kids in a foreign country where she didn’t speak the language. Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem for Joy. Joy had a talent for making friends everywhere and always found a way to communicate. She later managed the relocation of her family to Australia and Malaysia. She made lasting friendships throughout Europe, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. Joy was always genuine and never forgot her poor country roots or colloquialisms. People around the world loved her for it. Even after the kids were grown, Joy continued to accompany Bill on business trips to Washington, D.C. and Europe until his retirement.
When Bill died unexpectedly in his sleep in 1998, Joy was devastated and wasn’t sure she could live without him. However, she found strength in her family and joy with her grandsons. Her family was her purpose and, as always, she focused on them. She especially enjoyed the holidays with her family. Although it happened way too fast, she enjoyed seeing her grandsons grow up to be such fine young men.
Joy’s inner strength and toughness was on display over her last ten years as she battled through multiple health challenges such as diabetes, a burst appendix, two strokes and two heart attacks. Luckily, she never lost her ability to talk or her sense of humor. Her will to live was fierce and she fought to the very end. The doctors told her family she was going three different days before Joy decided she was ready to go. When Joy left to join Bill, she was surrounded by all four of her children and their spouses sharing memories with laughter and tears and renditions of ‘You Are My Sunshine’. Joy left knowing how much she was appreciated and loved.
Joy had a reputation for always being late. Punctuality wasn’t one of her virtues. For the many souls awaiting her arrival in heaven, Joy was late, as usual. But for those remaining on earth, she left way too early. There is less joy in our world, but there will always be joy in our hearts. Joy is survived by her children – Kerry, Genai, Brad and Ranice; her children-in-law – Tad and Stephanie; and her grandsons – Trew and Keyton.
Our mother was a life force that had to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Mere words don’t do her justice. Our family takes solace in knowing she is beginning her biggest adventure of all with her soulmate, Bill. She is surrounded by her baby brother Donald Lee, her mother, father, step-father, lots of cousins and in-laws. She’s having fun with friends like Shirley and Louise. There is quite a reunion taking place and, no doubt, Joy is the ‘life of the party’.