September 6, 1940 - October 13, 2021
Joyce Ann Mikeska Butler went home to be with Jesus our Lord on October 13, following a diagnosis of t-cell leukemia in the spring. Born to Fern and Frank Mikeska, Joyce Ann was named by her father after a favorite niece and a favorite sister of his. Joyce’s childhood was spent on the Gulf Oil Camp in Kilgore, where her father was employed. The Gulf Oil camp was property owned by Gulf Oil, upon which houses were built for the employees of the company. It was an idyllic community with a one circuit phone line full of characters who appeared repeatedly in the retelling of tales both cautionary and funny. Her older brother and sister, Frank and Donna, figured prominently in these stories, as did their parents for whom they all had great reverence and respect. Joyce viewed herself as a bit of a tomboy, recalling that she preferred to be outside climbing trees and reading rather than indoors doing domestic activities. She noted multiple times that the Boy Scouts were the ones doing the most interesting and engaging activities and she longed to be camping in the woods or trying her hand at archery. The family relocated to Shreveport when Joyce was entering eighth grade. She made lifelong friends there while attending Byrd High School, from which she graduated in 1959. Her dad gave her the choice of Louisiana State, the University of Texas, or the University of Arkansas, and she chose Fayetteville sight unseen. A lifelong picky eater, away from home she branched out at U of A, trying a variety of new foods as well as majors. First architecture, then psychology, and finally math. She claimed that she struggled in vector analysis and the professor only allowed her to graduate if she promised to never teach math, but her membership in Mortar Board and Phi Beta Kappa suggest she did just fine. She pledged Chi Omega during her sophomore year, which yielded dear friendships of over sixty years.
Following graduation, Joyce moved to Dallas for a job with IBM. She completed IBM’s training program and served the company for over fourteen years. She received letters of commendation and promotions and enjoyed traveling both for work and for fun. It was at IBM that she met her husband, Norm Butler, and they married in 1975. They moved to Lake Highlands and had their only child, a daughter, Ann. Joyce was a devoted mother, ending her career with IBM in order to stay home. She volunteered often through PTA, Girl Scouts, and church, and used her computer skills to run the new Apple IIe lab at White Rock Elementary. She took pride in all her work, paid or volunteer, and believed it wasn’t worth doing something if you didn’t do it right. She was especially good at taking a huge, overwhelming task and breaking it down into smaller pieces. In 1986, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and lived to be a 35-year survivor. She was forever grateful to the medical staff of Baylor hospital who cared for her through her fight with breast cancer as well as other illnesses over the years. A lifelong Methodist, Joyce was a devoted follower of Jesus, studying through Bible Study Fellowship, and seeking to share the gospel for the benefit of all people. Her grandsons were born in 2010, 2012, and 2015 and were the absolute greatest joy of her life. She lived to facilitate their learning and teach them Biblical truth. Joyce was preceded in death by her parents, brother, and husband, and is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Ann and Josh Willis; grandsons, Finn, Laird, and Rhett; sister, Donna Mikeska Spear; nieces and nephews, and so many loving friends and extended family. A celebration of life will be held at Lake Highlands United Methodist Church on October 30 at 11:00am.