NILES - Joyce McGowan Hartzell, 82, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Niles on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.
Mrs. Hartzell was born on May 5, 1930, in Niles. She was the only child of former Niles Chief of Police, Matt McGowan and Catherine McGowan.
Joyce graduated from Niles McKinley High School in 1948, where she was active in debate and theatre. She was a graduate of Bowling Green State University, where she met her lifelong sweetheart, Douglas, while singing for a band he played with. The two married in 1951, shortly before her graduation and student teaching.
Joyce brought Doug back home to Niles, where he served many years as a high school and elementary band director. Joyce also taught for the Niles City Schools for 36 years, teaching at Garfield, Jackson, Lincoln, Jefferson and Bonham elementary schools. She was a beloved kindergarten (and later third grade) teacher who delighted students with her storytelling, piano playing and enthusiasm.
While Joyce loved teaching, her first devotion was always to her own four children, Douglas, Holly, Matthew and Suzann, and passing on her Catholic Christian faith. She was a lifelong parishioner of St. Stephen's Church in Niles, where she served as a eucharistic minister. She also participated in Beta Sigma Phi Women's Sorority, the Niles Catholic Women's Club, (AFS) American Field Service and the Niles Federation of Retired Teachers.
Joyce was an avid reader who enjoyed playing rummy with her grandkids and Bridge with her friends. She loved spending summer vacations at her cottage at Geneva-on-the-Lake, where she swam and sailed. She will be remembered for her kind, generous heart and her willingness to lend a nonjudgmental ear.
She is survived by her sons, Douglas of Billings, Mont., Matthew of Niles; daughters, Holly (Robert) Novotne, currently of Niles, and Suzann (Roger) Baldwin of Kalamazoo, Mich.
She also leaves to cherish her memory her beloved sister-in-law, Winifred Kovacik of Corvalis, Ore.; niece, Ellissa Parnon of Corvalis, Ore.; six grandchildren, Aidan, Gowan, Hope and Heath Baldwin of Kalamazoo, Mich., Russell Hartzell and Hannah Ennis of Mont., and two great-grandchildren.
She lost the love of her life, Douglas, on July 26, 2006.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11 a.m. Monday at St. Stephen's Church. The Rev. Thomas Kraszewski will be the celebrant. Calling hours will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Holloway-Williams Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 611 Robbins Ave., Niles. Burial will be in Niles City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family request that material contributions be made to the St. Stephen School Tuition Angel Fund. Condolences can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.