Joyce Means

Obituary- Joyce Elizabeth Means

Joyce Elizabeth Means Thompson passed away on August 10, 2019 at the age of 89. She was born in Valentine, Texas and lived most of her life in Porvenir where her parents, Gladys and Bill Means, owned a small farm and a ranch. Her family endured the deprivations of the Great Depression and a severe drought, forcing them to move to Tucson for jobs at Consolidated when Joyce was 13. She attended Tucson High, played drums in the band and was a dark haired beauty who met her husband, Eldon Thompson, at church. He was in the Air Force and they were soon married and she was off to a completely different life in North Pole, Alaska where Eldon was stationed. They lived in a tiny house, initially with only an outhouse, and had 4 children, Paul, Christine, Roger and Renee. They moved to College, a town close to the University where Eldon worked in the Geophysical Department at the University of Alaska after he left the Air Force in 1961.

They had a good Alaskan life which included hunt- ing, fishing and supporting their small Church, Badger Road Baptist. That life ended in a divorce in 1970 and Joyce moved to Grand Junction with Roger and Renee. She attended Mesa College and graduated with straight A’s with a degree in Travel and Recrea- tion. She returned to Tucson and lived with her parents and took on her life’s work, recording eye witness accounts of the border wars and massacres in the Big Bend area of Texas in the early 1900’s. Her first book was published in 1976 and generated so much interest that she did further research, publishing her hard back edition of Pancho Villa Days at Pilares, in 1994. The book contained hundreds of photos and she gained a big following with historians including Sul Ross University in Alpine, TX, and many Mexican families who didn’t have any photos of their ancestors. Her collection of eye witness accounts vindicated many of those ancestors who had been accused of being cattle thieves or murderers by big ranchers or the Texas Rangers. She was a hero and much loved in the Mexican community. She lived in South Tucson until 1997 when she moved to Fairfield La Cholla and continued selling her book online and answering questions from family members from her stories. The neighborhood was a difficult transition from South Tucson but ultimately she met many friends that she held dear. She lived alone with no complaints but loved it when Paul began spending the winters with her 8 years ago. She was even happier when Chris and Dave became snowbirds and bought a house in the same neighborhood 5 years ago! And she was happiest last year when all her kids were there in February for the Gem Show.

She moved 15 months ago (kicking and screaming) into Casas Adobes, an adult home very close by, but ended up loving many of the caretakers and residents. We celebrated her 89th birthday there 12 days before she passed away and it was a happy time with several old friends from Fairfield, Chris and Dave and a dear neighbor Charles who always included her in dinner invitations.

She loved the Lord, her kids, her parents and family, and her many friends. Anytime she was asked how she was doing, she replied that “As long as I have my kids and my friends around, I’m doing great!”


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