Joyce Eileen (Jefferson) Coleman, 77, of Warren, Pa., passed on to her heavenly home at 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 15, 2021, with her husband, Eugene, by her side.
Joyce was a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt. The majority of her life was dedicated to Christian ministry and service to others. Her dedication, friendly personality and infectious laugh influenced all who met her.
Joyce was born in Kane, Pa., on May 21, 1944, the first child of Mary (Hoffmann) and Norman Jefferson and was later joined by a younger brother, Norman Russell Jefferson. Originally from the Sheffield, Pa., area, the family resided on Follett Run Road in Warren for the majority of Joyce’s life where she enjoyed country living, especially breeding, raising, training, and riding horses. She attended school at North Warren Elementary, Beaty Middle School and Warren High School. She was a life-long and active member of the Warren First Church of the Nazarene.
Joyce attended Eastern Nazarene College where she majored in elementary education and minored in language. She met her future husband, Eugene Coleman, their first day on campus and it was love at first sight. After dating through college, they got married on June 11,1966. Full of wanderlust and a sense of adventure, they decided to move to Coos Bay/North Bend, Ore., then to Corvallis, Ore., where Gene earned a masters degree in science education and Joyce got her PHT (Putting Hubby Thru) by teaching elementary school.
Following God’s leading in youth ministry, Joyce and Gene moved cross country three more times, living in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Coos Bay, Ore.; Portsmouth, Ohio, and Circleville, Pa. They finally settled down in Joyce’s hometown. Joyce and Gene taught first at Circleville Christian Academy and then at Warren County Christian School. During her time at WCCS, in addition to teaching, she designed and provided costuming for a variety of theatrical productions, theme dinners and history presentations and also organized the school library. She loved teaching young children to read and tutoring students after school and during the summers. After nearly 30 years teaching at WCCS (kindergarten, second grade and Spanish), Joyce transitioned to working part-time as a support staff for special needs students before retiring completely in 2008. Her kindness, enthusiasm and passion for teaching touched the lives of countless children over the years.
Outside of teaching, Joyce enjoyed gardening, flower arranging, crafting, sewing (specializing in wedding and prom gowns), costume designing, puppet ministry, antique collecting, singing, birding and photography. However, her main passion was horses and after moving back to Warren, she realized a life-long dream of owning and raising Arabian Horses and named their farm Heart’s Desire Arabians. She became a certified riding instructor and provided lessons inspiring many other horse enthusiasts to pursue their love of horseback riding, for fun and in competitions.
Over the past 20 years, Joyce increasingly suffered the effects of a rare degenerative brain disorder called Corticobasal Degeneration (a Parkinson’s-type disease) which affected her vision, fine and gross motor coordination and eventually verbal skills, memory and swallowing. As the family navigated this difficult journey, we have been grateful for the home health care aides who helped Gene keep her in their home as long as possible and the nursing home staff who skillfully cared for Joyce over the past five years.
The family draws comfort from knowing that Joyce is no longer suffering and that she is in heaven with Jesus, her beloved parents and other loved ones. She is rejoicing in her eternal home with her Savior! (One of us overheard Gene quip, “She has probably already found a horse to ride!”)
Joyce is survived by her husband, Eugene Coleman, Jr.; her daughter, Sarah Shobert (Todd) of Hanover, Mass., her daughter, Rebecca Sorensen Downey (Lawrence) of Warren, Pa., her daughter, Elizabeth Gordon (Geoffrey) of Mesa, Ariz.; grandchildren: Stephanie (Shobert) Martin (Cameron), Scott Shobert (Golda), Erik Sorensen, Jacob Sorensen, Devin Gordon, Miles Gordon, Julian Gordon; step-grandchildren: Jacqueline Saunders, Anna Downey, William Downey; great-granddaughter, Madison Martin; brother, Norman Russell Jefferson (Karen); and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and great-nieces.
Joyce is preceded in death by her parents, Norman and Mary (Hoffmann) Jefferson; her beloved grandmother, Mabel (Manning) Hoffmann; and son-in-law, Andrew Sorensen.
A memorial service will be held at the Warren First Church of the Nazarene, 907 Pennsylvania Ave. West, Warren, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Visiting hours will be from 1-3 p.m., and the memorial service will be at 3 p.m., followed by a light dinner.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations supporting Joyce’s passion for Christian ministry and education through a donation to Warren County Christian School in Youngsville, Pa.