Cover photo for Joyce Louise "Sweet" Cleasby's Obituary
Joyce Louise "Sweet" Cleasby Profile Photo

Joyce Louise "Sweet" Cleasby

September 1, 1926 — July 3, 2022

Joyce Louise "Sweet" Cleasby

Joyce passed away peacefully on July 3rd, 2022, at 95 years of age. She was born in Chicago to her parents Wayne and Rheta Sweet and moved to Grand Rapids MI until Wayne decided to move to Kendall MI to farm - just a few miles from his father’s farm. She attended a one-room schoolhouse in her elementary years and then attended Gobles High School. Joyce has always been an avid reader, and her love for books goes all the way back to her early years when she would climb a tree and hide away for hours reading one, or ten. She always talked about picking potatoes in the field (only natural it would be her favorite food), the gorgeous horses that worked the farm (which she reminisced about every fall at the St. Joseph County Fair) and listening to Tiger baseball games on the radio with her Grandpa Livingston. After graduation, she worked at Beach Products and Checker Motors in Kalamazoo.

Joyce met John Donald Cleasby as he swept her off of her feet at a dance at Fort Custer Training Facility.  He was there while recovering from malaria after serving in the Army for 3 years in WWII in New Guinea. John and Joyce married in 1945 and had five sons: Gerry (Virla) Cleasby, Brad (Renee) Cleasby, David (Sharynne) Cleasby, John (Bonnie) Cleasby, and Eric (Lori) Cleasby.  She has 9 grandchildren that she adored: Melissa (Jason) Weimer, Derek (Keri) Cleasby, Elizabeth (Eric) Carlson, Christine (Scott) Hale, Laura (Ted) Cleasby-Forester, Tara Conklin, Breanna (Scott Conley) Cleasby, Chris (Ashley) Cleasby, and Jonny Cleasby. She was also blessed with 16 great grandchildren (Marshall, Nolan, Tyler, Ryan, Kyle, Bryce, Deanna, Ally, Drew, Heather, Cale, Braydin, Marissa, Kaleb, Brielle, and Emma). She was preceded in death by her dear husband John in 1975, her son John Duane in 2011, mother Rheta, daughter in law Sharynne, brother Kenneth Sweet and sister Pauline Branch.

After raising her sons, she worked in the Kalamazoo Public schools as a secretary for 18 years, where she also met her lifelong friend Carolyn who she loved to spend time with. Joyce always valued education and was always thirsty to learn and read new things, something she passed along to her children and grandchildren. Joyce then became a tax preparer with H & R Block, then did taxes in her own home business for many years, working well into her 80’s. Joyce always loved to stay busy, and even up to the time she left us, would say she wanted to get a job and needed something to do!  

Joyce was always on the go and making memories with family and friends. She enjoyed spending time at Sandy Pines with her family and longtime partner of 20 years Paul Mohney, as well as traveling the world. From Mediterranean cruises, trips to Alaska, Arizona, and Wisconsin, and visiting the Grand Canyon, to fishing trips in Canada, camper trips to Florida, exploring Europe, and bus tours down south- she surely got to see a lot of God’s creation!  In 2005 Joyce reconnected with Wade Campbell, a family friend from the years their children were growing up. They were married briefly until he passed away in 2006.

Joyce was very involved at Trinity Lutheran Church (Kalamazoo). Trinity held a special place in her heart, as this was where she was baptized and the Cleasby family became members in 1949. She was very involved with the Clothes Closet, the Altar Guild, sitting on the church council, being a Sunday school teacher, member of the Esther Mary Circle, and she enjoyed knitting prayer shawls with the knitting circle for those in need.  She loved her Trinity family dearly and was always thankful for the thoughtful services led by Pastor Ken and Pastor Jake and for the fellowship and companionship she found with many friends she had within the church over the years. She was also treasurer of the Whatsoever Association for over 40 years and valued her work there. In 2015 Joyce received the Valiant Woman Award from Church Women United, an honor extended to very few members of this organization. A Valiant Woman is “one who lives her life in a quiet way in service to her church and community, living the gospel message in her everyday life.” 

Joyce was so much to so many, and the list of the things she enjoyed is endless, though all have a common theme - they always included time with her family and friends. From days at Sandy Pines, family trips to Florida, watching her children and grandchildren play sports and the performing arts, car rides to Chicago, Canada & U.P. fishing trips with her boys, traveling the world, bridge club with her friends, her world famous dinner rolls, elephant ears at the St. Joseph County fair, and morel mushroom hunts, to grab bag at Christmas, reading novels in a day, knitting afghans and crocheting dishcloths for everyone, bird watching, homemade canned tomatoes, riding her bike, special manicure and pedicure days, Plainwell ice cream, and boat rides on Gull Lake and Wixom Lake; she did it all!

Joyce also loved her longtime lap companion Gidget, her little yorkiepoo, and her cats Prince and Piper.  She truly had a soft spot for the fur babies.

She was a doer and passed on so many of her amazing attributes and life lessons to those around her. She was a saver, but also a giver, and was always thinking about how she could help others.

Joyce was the matriarch of her family and always believed family was the most important thing in the world. Nothing made her happier than when we could all be together. She had a way of making each one in her family feel special, and always made time for them. She loved her family fiercely and was always present. She taught her family to love unconditionally and to follow God’s word. She has left her mark on this world.

She is survived by 4 sons, 4 daughter-in-laws, 9 grandchildren and spouses, 16 great grandchildren, and many many extended family members and lifetime friends who she loved dearly. She was our Earth angel, and now our heavenly angel, and will never be forgotten.    

A Celebration of Joyce’s life will be held on July 15, 2022, 11:00 AM at Trinity Lutheran Church, 504 South Westnedge, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Memorials may be made in her name to: Whatsoever Association of Kalamazoo, 1453 Shoal Ave., Richland, MI 49083.

A KRESA Scholarship fund is also being formed in her name. Details will be available at her service.

While at please take time to sign Joyce's guestbook and/or share a memory with her family.

The Cleasby family is being cared for by the Avink, McCowen & Secord Funeral Homes and Cremation Society, 129 S. Grand, Schoolcraft, MI 49087. (269)679-5622.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joyce Louise "Sweet" Cleasby, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Memorial Service

Friday, July 15, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Trinity Lutheran Church - Kalamazoo

504 S. Westnedge, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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