Joyce Richardson

ATHENS – Joyce Richardson, 81, Athens, died on Wednesday, March 25, at her home. It was her 61st wedding anniversary with husband Phil Richardson, who died in December.

She will be remembered fondly as a teacher, a mother, and a wife, but more than anything and most importantly to her, Joyce was a writer. Born in 1938 in Van Wert, Ohio to J. Fred and Evelyn Williams, she began writing as a child and continued through Van Wert High School to Ohio University, where she earned a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing. She once wrote that “nothing equals the joy of an in-progress poem and a completed work of art.”

Her often award-winning poems and short stories were published in journals and collections, and she is the author of three novels and three chapbooks of poetry. Her novels include the book On Sunday Creek and her two museum mysteries, Nude Descending a Staircase and Nude with Red Hat. Her published poetry chapbooks consist of The Reader, Sailing without a Sail, and Delia’s Gone. Her poetry demonstrates her ability to combine the personal, the humorous, and the imaginative. She was recognized by the Ohio Arts Council with a fellowship and awarded residencies at various artist colonies. Upon retirement, her husband started writing also, and they shared this passion which took them to retreats and workshops all over, especially treasuring the Wildacres Writers’ Workshop in North Carolina.

Joyce began teaching at Chauncey Junior High and later spent twenty years teaching English and Drama at Trimble High School. She cherished her students and encouraged them to believe in their potential as much as she did. She was also thrilled to direct the school plays for many years.

Joyce was also a lifelong learner, pursuing painting, playwriting, and comedy writing and performing as one of the older students in Mel Helitzer’s famed stand-up comedy class at Ohio University. In retirement, she volunteered as a docent at the Kennedy Museum. She loved to travel, and a favorite destination was San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

She put up with a lot of foolishness from her sons Drew and Mark Richardson, but supported them unquestioningly in all their life endeavors.

In a recent piece, she compared herself to her mother, who continued to be vibrant and charmed everyone after her husband passed. Joyce wrote, “I charm no one. I am in my eighties and cannot imagine my life without Phil.” In this she was partly wrong; she charmed everyone.

Joyce is survived by her sons; her niece, Maria Williams; her former daughter-in-law—but always a daughter—, Donna Penoyer; her sister-in-law, Jo Ann Conard; and numerous other nieces and nephews. Besides her beloved husband, she was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Don Williams. She will be lovingly missed by many, but especially her local friends Jean and Barry Thomas and Bic and Maureen Weissenrieder, who with Joyce and Phil raised many a glass in celebration.

A memorial service for both Joyce and Phil Richardson will be held when we can all safely meet again. Arrangements are with Jagers & Sons Funeral Home. Please share a memory, a note of condolence or sign the online register at

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Kennedy Museum of Art in Athens.

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