Lucille Varnell Joyner

April 21, 2013 

With her daughter by her side, Lucille Varnell Joyner, a truly loving and devoted wife and mother, went home to meet her Lord and Savior on Friday, April 19, 2013.

A graveside service will be held Wednesday at 11 AM at Rocky Mount Memorial Park.

Born in Edgecombe County on October 21, 1926 to Cynthia Harrell and Bolden Wesley Varnell, she grew up in a rural community where tobacco farming was a way of life. Always a daddy’s girl, even until his death, she loved to be by his side whether it was in the field, tobacco barns, or the warehouse on opening day of the tobacco market. As a child, one of her fondest memories was eating her daddy’s barbecued chicken late at night at the tobacco barn with him and his hired man, Robert, who treated “Miss Lucille” like one of his own.

After graduating from Coopers High School, where she was an outstanding basketball player, she began public work in Rocky Mount, NC as a telephone switchboard operator and prided herself in being able to have her entire board plugged while assisting her neighboring operators, who she considered just too slow. Also during this time, she modeled for Vogue Dress Shops; modeling suits because of her tall, thin, stature; and dress gloves because of her slender hands and long fingers. During the last years of World War II, she was the youngest member of the Rocky Mount USO; and being quite a good dancer, was quite popular at the USO dances at the Masonic Temple. After World War II, she worked at Hammond Electric Company, and it was soon after the war that she met her future husband, Otha Edward Joyner. Married on January 31, 1948, their union lasted sixty-four years until his sudden death in August, 2012. Their love and devotion to one another was immeasurable and she lovingly called him “Daddy” because he always said he had taken her to raise and care for which he did until the day he died. But he, in turn, affectionately called her “First Sergeant.”

After the birth of their daughter, she no longer worked public work but devoted her entire life to making a warm and loving home for her family. While in Rocky Mount, she was quite active in Englewood Baptist Church, of which she, her husband, and daughter were charter members, civic and social organizations, and was the consummate hostess. She was a Girl Scout Leader and took an active role in any and all activities involving her daughter and husband. Her entire life revolved around her family.

After moving to Greenville in 1964, she again became actively involved in various organizations and clubs, such as the Loyal Order of the Women of the Moose, Greenville Chapter, the Couples Club, and the Greenville Cotillion Dance Club. However, what she enjoyed most was freezing the many vegetables that her husband would bring home from his gardens and in the winter, preparing pots of homemade vegetable soup, which many friends have enjoyed throughout the years. In addition, she was a pecan pie baker extraordinaire, to which many will attest. She was an avid reader, ruthless set-back player, shrewd investor, and a world traveler. A woman with true southern charm and grace, who possessed a quick wit, discerning intelligence, a disarming smile and childlike mischief, she loved her home and family passionately and was quite content to stay in the background and be the strong supporter of her family’s pursuits. A true southern lady, she will be sorely missed by her friends and family alike.

Leaving to cherish her undying love, unwavering devotion, and precious memories, is her daughter, Debria Joyner Perry, of Goldsboro, NC. She is also survived by her sister, Carol Varnell Stokes of Littleton, NC; and a nephew, Robert Carson Varnell, Jr., of Castalia, NC.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Otha Edward Joyner; her parents, Cynthia Harrell and Bolden Wesley Varnell; a brother, Robert Carson Varnell; and a niece, Cynthia Lynn Stokes.

The family will receive friends, Tuesday from 6 to 8 PM at Wilkerson Funeral Home.

Lucille’s daughter wants to especially thank the loving and compassionate nurses and caregivers on the fifth floor of Vidant Heart Tower who embraced her mother and comforted her during her extended illness. May God truly bless each of you as you were a blessing to her.

Online condolences available at www.wilkersonfuneral

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service