We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Valley Funeral Home Appleton
Joyce Marie Kelley, 89, passed on September 2, 2022. She went peacefully after living a long life of fighting injustice, blazing a trail for women in the workforce, and loving her family fiercely. She never shied away from conflict or strife, steadfast in her convictions, whether or not the underdog, she fought for what she thought was right. She married Fred Kelley and they went on to have 6 children before they divorced.
As a young single mother, she found her place at Zwicker’s Knitting Mill in Appleton and she became a force with whom no one wanted to reckon as a strong female voice. When she rose to prominence in her union, one notable story is when she was provided an office with the “suits” in the factory and was aghast to discover that the offices were air conditioned when the workers in the factory were subjected to extreme heat and horrid conditions. Despite being a woman in the 1970’s, she held sway with her strength and convictions when she ordered the maintenance unit to shut down the air conditioning to the elitist segregated area. Only until the entire workforce was allowed such comfort, could it be turned back on. She had a second career when she was one of the last employees who was there to lock the door to Zwicker’s for the last time, and she rededicated herself to helping others when she went back to school at age 55 and earned her degree as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
She was born in New London in 1933, and grew up in Kaukauna during the height of the depression. Even as a young girl, Joyce took on the world, whether it was lettering in sports or stomaching the apples in Grandpa Young’s attic, she was fearless, competitive and knew her worth. Joyce was direct, honest, and empathetic. She never tolerated fools but had a kind heart to everyone who was in need. She loved animals, including the best fed squirrels in the neighborhood, a slew of spoiled pups, and the rescued kitty Paco, who were her constant companions.
Preceded in death by her daughter Kathleen, grandchildren Megan and Jonathon, she is survived by her children: Dennis Kelley, Terry (Kurt) Nowak, Liddy (Roger) Cook, Michael Kelley, Tim (Jennifer) Kelley, and is also survived by her grandchildren Nicole, Kelly, Scott, Michelle, Michael, Kristin, Jacob, Joanna, Jennifer, Lauren, Eliza, Skylar, Connor, and Katie, as well as her great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held for Joyce on Thursday, September 15, 2022 from 2-3pm with service to begin at 3 at Valley Funeral Home. 2211 N Richmond St. Appleton, WI 54911.
In memory of Joyce the family asks for you to honor her strength and spirit by bucking the establishment, rescuing an animal, or just loving those near you with great ferocity. In lieu of flowers, donations can go to the Fox Valley Humane Association.