Mrs. Linda Joyce Gray passed away peacefully at her home in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Sunday, September 13th, 2020 at the age of 77. A celebration of life will be held in Linda's honor on Monday, September 21st at 10:30 am, at Strode Funeral Home in Stillwater. Officiating the service will be Bishop Justin R. Linsenmeyer, and a graveside committal will immediately follow at Fairlawn Cemetery. Public visitation will begin on Friday morning, September 18th, and the family will be available at the funeral home to greet guests from 4-6 pm on Sunday, September 20th.
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Linda was born on May 18th, 1943, to Taylor Foster Joyce and Velma Bernice Joyce in Wewoka, Oklahoma. On that beautiful spring day in 1943, the world instantly became a better place. For anyone that was lucky enough to know Linda, knew what it was to love Linda, and more importantly be loved by Linda, and know that she was truly one of a kind. Linda had the ability to light up every room, and every situation. Linda had a heart as big as her personality, made even strangers feel like they were family, and her gifts of empathy and ability to comfort were just a few of her greatest traits.
At the age of four Linda and her parents moved to Pryor, Oklahoma. It was during their time in Pryor, where Linda met her lifelong friend Janet Fleak. Linda would often tell one of her favorite Janet and Linda stories about the time that her and Janet decided to become 'blood sisters'. But when it came to seal the deal, they were too scared to prick each other's fingers!
It was also in Pryor where Linda said she received the biggest surprise, which was the birth of her baby brother Mike. Linda was ten years old when Mike was born, and to say she was the proudest big sister was truly an understatement. Linda loved her brother fiercely!
At age fourteen, the family made the move from Pryor to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Little did she know that their family relocation of 113 miles, to the house on 1005 Kings Highway, would lead to the greatest love story that has ever existed. Just a couple streets over on Orchard Lane lived another 14-year-old. A boy named William 'Bill' Gray whom had recently prayed that God would provide him with a good beautiful girl he would be able to date. Fortunately, the good Lord delivered, and two weeks after Linda moved to Stillwater, Bill called to asked her on their very first date to the movies. Later that night, Linda wrote in her journal, "Of course, I said yes! I began to jump around my room with excitement yelling, Bill Gray asked me out!!"
And from that moment on, the couple was inseparable. Bill has always been convinced he prayed her to Stillwater, and there is really no denying that. Although the couple was too young to drive themselves, they were more than thrilled to walk back and forth on their two-block path of love, and shamelessly have their parents drive them on their dates for the next two years.
Linda also had many social and academic accomplishments during high school. She was Freshmen Basketball Queen, a Stillwater High School cheerleader, S Club Queen attendant, Pioneer Queen attendant, Student Council Representative, and part of the National and State Honor Societies. She then graduated from Stillwater High School in 1961, all the while with Bill by her side.
During this time, Linda really enjoyed going to church with Bill and his family on Sundays. After four years, when she turned eighteen years old, Linda asked Bill if he would baptize her into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She immediately became a dedicated member of the church and a selfless servant of her savior, Jesus Christ.
After high school, Linda and Bill would attend Oklahoma State University where she pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma and Bill pledged Sigma Nu. Their days as Greek pledges were not meant to be as at the end of their freshmen year, Bill asked Linda to marry him and she happily accepted. They married in Stillwater at Bennett Chapel on August 27th, 1962, both at the age of 19. Shortly after, they were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. They recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. From that very first date at 14 years of age, and for the following 63 years, they never broke up and loved each other unconditionally.
After attending Oklahoma State University, they moved to Memphis, TN, where Bill attended dental school. Linda worked as a secretary at the National Cotton Council of America. During that time in Memphis, Linda gave birth to their oldest son Scott in 1966. Linda was over the moon to be a first-time mother. After dental school, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Army, and in January 1968, Bill received orders for Vietnam. Just four months into his service overseas, Linda returned home to Stillwater and gave birth to their very first daughter Keli, in May of 1968. Linda was thrilled to be a mother once again, and couldn't believe they now had a perfect baby girl as the newest member of their growing family. Linda had lots of help from her Mother Velma during this time, and after ten long months Bill was finally able to meet Keli for the very time.
After Bill returned from Vietnam, he opened his dental practice in Stillwater and their loving family continued to grow. Linda gave birth to their third child, a beautiful boy they named Jeff, in 1971. Eight short years later, they had a special surprise when their youngest daughter Lyndsee was born in 1979. The unconditional love Linda had for her children and family was second to none.
Even as her family grew, Linda continued her service to her community. She served in the PTA, as chairman of the book fair, and homeroom mother for several years. She was also a proud volunteer for Stillwater Medical Center and was a caregiver for hospice, served in almost every auxiliary within her church. She loved to sing and would often share her talents by singing solos, and was a member of the church choir. Linda was selected to be in a special 'Dallas LDS Temple Dedication Choir' in 1984, and what a memorable experience that was for her.
As their children began to grow and marry, Linda and Bill were blessed with ten grandchildren. Linda's greatest joy in life was being their 'Mimi'! She adored and cherished each one of her grandchildren, and the time she was able to spend with them. Her face would light up when she spent time with her grandchildren. She made everyone in her family feel like they were the most important person in the world with her loving words and compassion.
Linda is preceded in death by her father, Taylor Foster Joyce, mother, Velma Bernice Joyce, grandmother Bess Ann Vanhorn 'Mimi', and grandfather Glen Vanhorn 'Pop.' She is survived by her loving husband Bill, her brother Mike Joyce & his wife Kathy, her four children, Scott Gray & his wife Heather, Keli Moon & her husband Keith, Jeff Gray, and Lyndsee Hargett & her husband Chris, and her ten grandchildren, Mallory, Mason, Mikenzie, Hunter, Hannah, Hayden, Hope, Logan, Aldyn, and Austyn.
In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day, a fine sailing-ship spreads its brilliant white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and sails out to the open sea. We watch her glide away magnificently through the deep blue and gradually see her grow smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally, where the sea and the sky meet, she slips silently from sight; and someone near me says, "There, she is gone!" Gone where? Gone from sight- that is all. She is still as large in mast and hull and sail, still just as able to bear her load. And we can be sure that, just as we say, "There, she is gone!" another say, "There, SHE COMES!"
We love you Mimi, until we meet again....