Obituary for Joyce Sawhill
DERBY-Sawhill, Joyce (Davis) died on February 12, 2018 at the age of 94. She was born on September 14, 1923, the second of seven children born to Roscoe and Alta Davis, who farmed on the bank of the Arkansas River west of Derby. Growing up in the country during the Great Depression, in Barber County until 1929 and then in Wichita and Derby, profoundly affected Joyce’s values of frugality, practicality, independence, as well as fostering in her a deep love for nature. She attended elementary school at O.K. School on West Street where she first met the boy who would become her husband, Walter Sawhill. She graduated from Derby High in 1941 and attended Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia. Set to accept a scholarship to study Christian Education at Ottawa University, she put her plans on hold when she and Walter, back from the war, met again in a class at Wichita University. They were married on October 27, 1946. Joyce began her teaching career in charge of all grades in a one-room school east of Udall, Kansas. After bringing up six children, she taught as a substitute, served as receptionist in her husband’s law office, and began to travel. A champion of social justice issues, she went to Central America numerous times, sometimes on Presbyterian Church sponsored peace-making mission trips, and other times on her own. Her work with Casa Materna, a group that helped impoverished women during labor and childbirth, was especially close to her heart. Joyce was an avid and open-minded reader, and she especially loved poetry. She could recite long stanzas of her favorite poems. Those close to her knew that she had a poem or song, some of which she wrote herself, for every occasion. She loved all growing things and was an inspired gardener. Over the fifty years she lived on Alexander Drive in Haysville she created beautiful perennial beds, transplanting some of the bulbs and flowers from her girlhood farm. There was no inch of earth around the house that her hand failed to touch. Finally, she deeply loved her faith and her church, serving as the first woman elder for Saint Mark’s Presbyterian in Haysville, and many terms on the Session before moving to First Presbyterian Church in Derby. But more than loving the building, the friends, the fellowship, the hymns, or the liturgy, she loved the body of Christ’s church in all its meaning and mystery, and she strove all her life to live according to its teachings. Joyce is predeceased by her husband of 66 years, Walter Sawhill, her sister Elva Williams, her brothers Jim Davis and Bob Davis, her sons Ora Scott Sawhill and Guy Michael Sawhill. She is survived by her sisters Wilma Long of Clearwater, Kansas, Ann Turner of Edmonds, Washington, and Glenda Bogard of Shawnee, Kansas; by her daughters Janet Peery of Cape Charles, Virginia and Lauri Brown of Douglass, Kansas; her sons David Sawhill of Derby and Steven Sawhill of Wichita, ten grandchildren, and sixteen great-grandchildren, including her namesake, Joyce Maddy. Funeral service will be held on Thursday February 15, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church of Derby, with visitation at 10 a.m. and service at 11 a.m., followed by a luncheon. Burial at Wichita Park Cemetery at 2 p.m. The family suggests memorial gifts to Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas, and First Presbyterian Church in Derby in lieu of flowers.