| May 20, 1920 Special edition to celebrate the 100th birthday of Geraldine Jo Wood Joyner
Every morning soldier Richard Joyner would pick up a soda and
it to Geraldine Wood working in the camp commander's office.
The rest is history. Dad shipped out to the Pacific Theatre and when
he returned mom was in Santa Barbara at the Ninth Service Command. They were married in 1947. Sgt. Joyner is here in the first row, 5th from the right.
Based on this picture mom had the pick of many men. Dad was the lucky one.
From Patterson California to Livonia Michigan. 100 years. Happy Birthday Geraldine "mom" Joyner.
The late Fernon Feenstra, former City Councilman, called the typewriter shortly after mom passed away. He was just
checking in to offer condolences about mom. Half way through the conversation he offered a bit of advice. "Everyday you are going to reach for the phone to call her, at about the same time you called her every day. It will be your way to connect even though you get half way through dialing and realize she is not going to answer. But just the gesture on your part to call makes a connection."
Ten years later he is right. I find myself at 5:00 reaching for the phone to see what she and dad are having for dinner, if they want me to bring something, or for me to come over and help cook. 10 years.
Not a week goes by when someone, less frequently with the stay-at-home policy, says how much they miss "Geraldine." Funny that most call her Geraldine. Mom spelled it Jerrie and her mother called her Jerry. It was just a part of the enigma that she was. She rarely talked about the leg brace she wore, or the struggles she went through from the age of 16 months through high school, in and out of the hospital to lengthen her leg, the result of polio and Infantile Paralysis.
Mom loved children. Halloween when Lindsay Spence brought her two daughters over
made her especially happy. She always would give me an update on former school board member Mark Scarr's special needs daughter.
As a School Board member, she made it a point to visit every school once a year. One day she visited my school, but didn't tell me. My teachers came up to her and asked, "Is Bill okay? He;s not in class." When I came home, with a tan from sitting out at Kensington Lake, the first thing she said to me was "How was school today?" Boy was I in trouble! The only day I ever skipped school!
Mom was born on May 20, 1920, a Thursday morning at 6:00, weighing 7.5 pounds at 18 inches long. Her parents, William H. Wood Jr. and Hilda Wood, welcomed their first of three children, Geraldine, Glenn and Beverly. She was born in Stockton California and was raised in Patterson.
At the age of one, she stood by herself and enjoyed spending most of her time in the kitchen playing with the gas knobs on the stove. Made her first step on May 28, 1921, the day of her mother's birthday. At 14 months she started to walk, falling against a chair cutting her lower lip requiring one stitch.
Her mother wrote in her baby book that "she was very sick with Infantile Paralysis starting at about 16 months. Her right leg was paralyzed. I took her to the Doctor
for treatment three times a week for several months."
At thirteen months she said her first sentence and at 17 months she started to put sentences together. That was also the month that her dad had scarlet fever. "Jerry got on her little knees and said a prayer for Daddy to get well putting her fingers together and said "God Bless Daddy."
She spent an inordinate amount of time in the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. When she graduated from 8th grade her memory book was signed by Dr's, nurses
and other children attending school at the Hospital. She wrote that her school yell was "One, Two, Three, Four, Who are we for? Shriners, Shriners, Hurrah.
||After mom passed son Bill would often take her brace and speak to clubs about polio.
One student, Selma Wold, out of dozens of patients, doctor's and nurses wrote "I wish you good luck to your bone-lengthening." That was why she was in the Shriners Hospital, to have a bone from her hip removed and put in the short right leg in hope that by doing that she would be able to walk easier. The brace she wore was never far from her and was the first things she did every morning. Reach for the brace.
The 1921 polio epidemic did change her life. The San Francisco Shriner's Hospital accepted her as a patient when she was 4 years old. Through the 8th grade she was home and hospital schooled. By high school she was healthy and happy graduating in 1937.
World War II
During World War II she met when the war ended married Richard Joyner of Farmville North Carolina, who would go on to have a career with Burroughs, moving to Livonia in 1959.
Her appreciation for children had an outlet when she and dad moved to Decatur Georgia and she became an officer of the PTA. We weren't there long as dad was moved on to Burroughs corporate office. The PTA did not mince any words in this letter they wrote wishing her well:
"The PTA at Clairmont School wants you to know how sincerely we appreciate all that you did. . .it is rare to find a person so devoted and interested as you were to your job. All of us at Clairmont miss you and your nice family so very much, but know that with your attributes, it will be no problem to fit in beautifully in any community."
Grant School PTA
Having moved to Livonia in December 1959 it did not take long for the comments from the Clairmont PTA to come true. Jerrie, served as President of the Grant School PTA in the 1961-62 school year and 1962-63 school year. She moved on to become President of the Livonia PTA Council.
Livonia Board of Education
In 1965 Joseph Milko was an incumbent who announced he would run again. Steve Polgar the other incumbent chose not to run. Ten filed including Geraldine Joyner,
Lewis Caves, David Merrion, Donald Murch, Dominick Taddonio, Fred Bailey. Geraldine Joyner ran number 1 and her legacy as a school board member was just getting started, the first woman elected to the school board.
Interesting when she ran with only one piece of literature, a constantly ringing phone, it was a network of community leaders who helped her win. Bob Bennett, Livonia's future councilman and Mayor, along with Bob Nash, future councilman and clerk, offered their help. But her kitchen cabinet was only women who organized fund raisers and helped to make the calls. It all worked as she ran #1, winning election in 1965, re-election in 1969 and 1973.
She toyed with running again but by then both Bill and Bob were not in school and it was her belief that there comes a time that politics became a time of life not a lifetime and with no children in school she felt she would not have the immediacy of school contact. She opted to continue as Livonia's representative on the Wayne County Intermediate District, that a greater impact could be had working on state and national education issues.
She spent over 20 years on the Livonia Board of Education and Wayne County Intermediate School District, was active in the League of Women Voters, was on the original community Prayer Breakfast committee and the Livonia Town Hall. She testified before Congress on educational issues numerous times.
National School Boards Association
In 1978 she was a guest speaker, one of many times that she was, at the National School Board Association convention in Anaheim California. Her topic? Who Speaks for the Kids' Interest in Your District."
"Few persons or groups associated with education will disclaim a share of the credit of speaking for student interests. The sad commentary of it all is that there are indicators that students have not been very well represented by the very ones who believe they are, indeed, speaking for today's young men and women.
". . .with a total team effort--listening, being objective in our thinking, making sound decisions based on all the information available, setting aside personal prejudices and quests for personal gains, facing up to responsibilities with dignity and integrity--the policies we adopt will provide the framework for today's students to take our places as tomorrow's leaders."
Two sons carry on the legacy of the Joyner family. Bob, a Doctor in San Antonio, served in the United States Air Force. He has two sons, Jonathan and Jason, both San Antonio attorney's and one daughter Kimberly also of San Antonio, an associate business planner. Bill has one son Paul,
a photographer living in
The Jason and Jessica family
Mom was a smart, engaging woman who knew how to bring family and community together. Rarely if ever talked about the struggles of polio, refused to complain and would not get a handicapped sticker until late in her life. She, in all likelihood, did not think of herself as handicapped, cooking two meals a day right up to the end for dad, sitting in her wheelchair determined to live life as fully as possible.
She loved to share stories with close friends Jack and Senie Engebretson, Connie and Sue Gniewek, Bob and Janet Bennett. And the list could go on and on as she did indeed count so many as her friends. But none made her smile more than when Bob and the grandchildren, Paul, Kimberly, Jonathan and Jason were all over for a visit. She would sit on the front porch and the minute she saw the car turn the corner she took on another personality, focusing on her family, asking questions, making sure they had enough to eat. It is as if all she wanted in life, from a childhood spending hours and days in a hospital, to an adult giving back to children, putting smiles on their faces.
Happy birthday mom. You are missed but certainly not forgotten.
As the readership of Musings continues to increase each week the typewriter thought it would be appropriate to tell you a little bit about how he got to where he is today.
Proud inductee of the 1835 Livonia City Hall of Fame
|An Act of shared remembrance and thanksgiving for all those in the military and first responders who came before us
|Mission Accomplished: Livonia Service Clubs thank all those who helped make their deliveries of two meals a day to those working at
St. Mary Hospital. A successful partnership
Two food deliveries to St. Mary Mercy Hospital Livonia on May 15th marked the end our Food Donation Program.
The SMML Cafeteria is returning to full service and this Program is therefore MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
On behalf of the Livonia Service Clubs (Lions, AM Rotary, Kiwanis and Jaycees) and the Administration and Staff of SMML, we would like to recognize and thank all of the small businesses and organizations that provided food support for this Program.
Aleko's (Jeffery Naeger)
Arby's - 7 Mile Rd.
Biggby Coffee - Ann Arbor Rd.
Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church
Feed the Front Lines
Honey Baked Ham
Jersey Mikes - Middlebelt Rd.
Jersey Mikes - 6 Mile Rd.
Jets Pizza - 7 Mile Rd.
Jimmy Johns (Joanne Roe & Friends)
Leftys (Local 98 and Guardian Plumbers)
Little Caesars Pizza
Livonia AM Rotary Club
Livonia Kiwanis Club
Livonia Lions Club
Moes on Ten
Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts Program
Subway on Five
Zukins Rib Shack
Please show your appreciation and support for these businesses by including them in your future patronage decisions.
On behalf of the Livonia Service Clubs (Lions, AM Rotary, Kiwanis and Jaycees) and the Administration and Staff of SMML, we would also like to recognize and thank all of our Service Club volunteers who were active in support of this Program:
Chuck Hooper, Gary Deschenes, Rob Donovik, Dave Lewandowski and Matt Collins, Rotarians
Jeff Adams, Bob Carris, Mike Ladwig, Greg Greene and Dave Stechholz, Jaycees
Kimberly Black, Heather Asher, Mariah Jenness, Renee Gesinger and Kiwanian
Please consider joining a Livonia Service Club and help us to continue the good work that we do as we serve those in need in Livonia.
Special Thanks to those members of the Livonia Community who made a cash donation in support of this Program! Thanks to FridayMusings for all the support.
Proud inductee of the 1835 Livonia City Hall of Fame
|Our neighbors react to some of the articles in Musings
Great piece on Jan Welch. She was always a favorite friend in school. She's earned every honor she's received, a very dedicated and smart lady.
Comments in YMCA closing:
I completely understand the decision, but this still saddens me. I grew up a blue racer, stayed the night there many times, first played basketball there. It was part of my youth. Let's look forward. So what would everyone like to see in that space?
Timothy J. Klisz As a former Y board member this is horrible news. They were really starting to turn things around. Glad to hear they may provide alternate camps.
Susan Malone Nash So very sad. Many kids and adults have benefited from the Y through the years.
Wendy Belloli Ernzen If there are adults with disabilities in the area looking for sports upon the closing of the YMCA, they can join us at The Arc of Northwest Wayne County when we resume. We offer six competitive sports throughout the year, ages 16 to 106, and participation in Special Olympics.
Julie Spivey Sad to hear this, so many wonderful memories of the Livonia Y, proud board member, Indian princesses, swim lessons,
Robert Biga I remember when the Livonia Family Y started at the former Elm School! Was president of the young adult group started by Don Dinwoodie.
Proud sponsor of the 1835 Livonia City Hall of Fame