Joyce Ellen Crafton Estes
Published 11:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2023
Joyce Ellen Crafton Estes, 86 of Kenbridge, passed away on March 11 after a prolonged illness. She was born on her family’s Crooked Creek Farm in Lunenburg on Dec. 15, 1936 to Stephen Harold Crafton and Ellen Bayne Crafton. She was a true child of Southside Virginia, growing up on the tobacco farm there, and continued to garden and raise animals all her life. She married her true love Harley Kendig Estes on New Year’s Eve 1955 and lived life on her own terms, going on to be surrounded by family and friends, to have a rewarding career and to enjoy the community she loved.
She attended Kenbridge High School, where she was actively involved as senior class president, student treasurer, editor of the student newspaper “The Tinkling Bell” and more. She was valedictorian of the class of 1955 and was voted “Most Businesslike” and “Most Loyal to the Class” in her senior yearbook. She went on to graduate from Smithdeal-Massey Business College in Richmond and started her career as a legal secretary in Norfolk, while her husband was stationed there with the Navy.
When the young couple returned to Lunenburg County and settled near the Estes family home place Breezy Valley outside of Victoria, she remained busy, managing the family business Estes Auto Service Center and working for Commonwealth Tobacco. She retired from her long career as office manager at Imperial Processing Corp. in Kenbridge.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Harley; her brother, Richard Bayne Crafton and two infant siblings, Cecil Crafton and Geraldine Crafton.
She is survived by her children, Richard Tracy Estes (Mary Ann) and Patricia Lynn Estes File (Gene); two grandchildren, Lindley Estes Thomas (Matthew) and Tucker Estes; a great-grandson, Harley Thomas; a brother, Harold McCoy Crafton (Lynda) and numerous extended kin. She is also survived by many loving friends who remember her as a woman who knew how to be in the moment, as her name would suggest, in joy.
After retirement, she travelled the world, riding a camel to the Great Pyramids, swimming in the Dead Sea, lounging in the Caribbean, trying new cuisine in Europe and taking in the breathtaking views of Alaska. She loved a good, crisp glass of white wine and held weekly “Wine Time” with her friends and family. Joyce even made her own wine from grapes she grew. She was always the center of a good time for her community, having run the Strawberry Festival in Kenbridge for many years, and offering a piece of herself in every meal she made and every drink she shared. She never met a dance floor she didn’t enjoy. She enjoyed this time of year, early spring when the jonquils begin to poke their sunny heads from the ground once again and the promise of spring was evident in the land. We are glad she saw this season once again.
Joyce’s faith was a constant comfort in her life, and she was a devoted member of the Good Hope Christadelphian Ecclesia in Kenbridge, where she played the organ and is remembered for her large homemade lunches offered in friendship. Graveside funeral services were held 2 p.m., Wednesday, March 15, at the Kenbridge Heights Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please consider memorial donations the first responders of your choice. Clarke Funeral Home, Kenbridge, in charge of services.