Joyce Corbett Schmitz

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Joyce was born in Fresno, California, on December 23, 1944, the oldest child of LaVerne and James “Mickey” Corbett. Her family lived in California until the early 1960s and then, with the exception of Joyce and her brother Jim, the family moved to Montana.

Joyce always talked about her visits to Montana and the differences of the way of life here. From the busy freeways to dirt roads, high rise apartment buildings to rural farms, buying a quart of milk at the store to watching them milk cows on a farm ... it was all a new experience for her. Eventually Joyce packed her belongings and her apricot poodle (Sadie) and moved to Montana to be closer to her family. She never looked back. She loved the relaxed, stress free atmosphere that Montana provided. And she loved being close to her family again.

After settling in the Mission Valley, Joyce went to work for Drs. Rush and Maharry in St. Ignatius. Not liking the drive to Mission in the winter, she soon found work at Ronan State Bank as Al Skogen’s loan secretary. Joyce also tended bar part time at Willards. She loved working for and with Al, Willard and Julie.

Joyce didn’t participate in sports but soon became an ‘avid watcher.’ From bowling to softball to pool, she was always there to root for the team. She, along with most of the family, traveled the state watching her brothers Jim, Denny and Tim play softball for the Mission Valley Merchants. When brother Tim started racing stock cars, she was a part of our family section as much as possible. In fact, she said that if it weren’t for her brothers participating, she never would have gone to a game or a race. It wasn’t fun unless she could watch them. If they weren’t playing or racing ... she didn’t go.

Then, the impossible happened! Never thinking she could have children, Joyce gave birth to Jolene and then 2 years later, Megan. By this time, our family stretched from Missoula to Columbia Falls and so she decided to move her little family to Kalispell. There she went to work for Valley Bank in Kalispell for a few years.

She also ran an in-home daycare for 13 years. As a single mom, Joyce did whatever she could, working several jobs so she could give her girls a good life. Joyce then went to work as a Home Health caregiver. This became the beginning of her true calling.

After raising her girls, Joyce came back to the Mission Valley to be closer to Mom. She found work at the Council on Aging in Ronan and then later the Area VI Agency on Aging in Polson. Joyce was a true advocate for the elderly. She tirelessly promoted quality care for the residents of nursing homes and was an Ombudsman between the facilities, families and residents.

It was her life’s goal and it was more than just a job to her. Joyce tried to retire several times, but she always managed to go back for one reason or another. Even answering phones and making appointments made her feel involved in elder care. She was planning on working part time for the Agency this summer, until her illness forced her to cancel.

Joyce was absolutely thrilled to become a grandma. First came grandson River, followed by granddaughter Rylin. Now her world was complete. Spending time with her grandkids was absolute joy to her.

Other than her family and friends, Joyce loved so much more! Coffee and chocolate, Barbra Streisand, coffee and chocolate, 50s and 60s music, coffee and chocolate, pearls, mushrooms and sunflowers, coffee and chocolate, going out to eat (Saturday morning breakfast will never be the same), coffee and chocolate, yelling for or yelling at Griz football while sister Erin cooked dinner, coffee and chocolate, a good book, warm weather ... and did I mention coffee and chocolate?

Family passing before Joyce are her parents, with Mom passing just a year ago, both sets of grandparents, several uncles and her brother-in-law Zane.

Surviving Joyce are her daughters, Jolene with grandson River and Megan (Garrett) with granddaughter Rylin. Also mourning her loss are her brothers Jim (Yvonne) Corbett and family, Denny (Marie) Corbett and family, Tim (Lisa) Corbett and family, sister Erin Jennison and family, and her aunt Jamie (Tom) Hanson and family of California.

Joyce also left behind so many good friends, both from her personal and her work life. They were all family to her and she cared for each person, and you knew it. Joyce was the best big sister and no matter what stupid thing you might have done, she never judged you. She’d give you ‘that’ look and say, “You know, that was pretty dumb ... so how are we gonna fix it?” Rest easy, my sister. You’ve worked hard all of your life and you deserve it. I give you peace ...

As she wished, there will be no services. All she wanted was family and close friends getting together to have a pot luck BBQ with good food and good music and yes, we’ll listen to a few Barbra songs for ya, my Seestore.

We’ll get together at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 27 at Erin’s place (46752 Old Hwy 93 in Ronan). Bring your favorite dish or salad, a chair, and your beverage of choice. We’ll provide the meat, lemonade, water, yard games, music and shade.

In honoring Joyce’s legacy for elder care, any memorials should be sent to Ronan Senior Center, or better yet, visit an elderly neighbor, family member or friend. Make sure they are safe and getting the support they need.

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