Joyce Frances Lewis Crane died Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at home. She was born November 5, 1931, to the late Bessie Aycock and B. J. Lewis.
Crane graduated from Roanoke Rapids High School in 1950 and later from the Pan American School in Richmond. She was secretary to the principal of Roanoke Rapids High School for 51 years and a member of First Presbyterian Church, where she sang in the choir. Crane also was a member for several years of the Roanoke Rapids Junior Woman’s Club and the Down-to-Earth Garden Club, in which she held a number of offices. She also sang with the Roanoke Rapids Oratorio Society in their performances of The Messiah.
Crane was honored on October 17, 2001, the actual date of her 50 years as secretary to the principal of Roanoke Rapids High School with a reception where she received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and letter of congratulations from Governor Michael Easley. Mayor Gene Minton also issued a proclamation for Joyce Lewis Crane Day that day. She retired, due to her illness with throat cancer, December 31, 2002, with 51 years of service as secretary to the principal. The Roanoke Rapids Board of Education honored Crane on Sunday, May 18, 2003, for her 51 years of service with the dedication of the Joyce Lewis Crane courtyard and memorial. She also was honored several times by the Roanoke Rapids City Schools as Support Person of the Year. On October 21, 1997, she was honored by the Roanoke Rapids Business and Professional Women’s Club with a plaque for recognition of outstanding performance and dedication that extends beyond the call of duty.
An avid Yellow Jackets fan, Crane did not miss a home or away football game for over 20 years. She also served as the faculty cheerleader sponsor for several years and was chaperone for the RRHS chorus on many out-of-town trips. She attended 53 Junior-Senior proms. The RRHS Ro-Rap honored her in 1970 with the yearbook dedication which read, “As the days go by at RRHS, we find a person whose influence and contribution has outdistanced mere responsibility. This person, by surpassing the boundaries of her duties, has evoked in us a sincere appreciation for her devoted service to both students and teachers. She supports our endeavors, boosts our spirits, and remains pleasant herself, despite the barrage of problems with which she is confronted daily. In gratitude for her patient and understanding nature, we, the members of the Ro-Rap staff, dedicate the 1970 Ro-Rap to Joyce Lewis Crane.”
Crane was a breast cancer and throat cancer survivor, and she always commented on how much she appreciated the people of Roanoke Rapids and the employees of Roanoke Rapids City Schools who took her to Raleigh daily for throat cancer treatments. She loved the Carolina Tar Heels and collected basketball calendars and other memorabilia yearly.
Former principal Michael Hurst wrote a departing note to Crane which said, “Thank you for being a loyal executive secretary to the principal. I will never forget your commitment to RRHS and me. You have had perhaps more impact than anyone I know on this school and the children of Roanoke Rapids.” Jenna Minton, student body president in 2002, gave Crane a music box which said, “Some people touch your lives only briefly while others leave a lasting impression and are not forgotten.” In a farewell speech to students, Minton told Crane, “If I could choose a grandmother to adopt, you would definitely be my choice. Thanks for always greeting me with a smile the many times I had to visit your office and for being generous to me. You are an extraordinary lady, and I will miss our frequent conversations.” Long-time friend Mary Fran Fisher one time wrote, “Joyce took lemons and made lemonade.”
Many RRHS students and graduates have remained special to Crane, but she expressed deep appreciation to some who stayed in touch with her for many, many years: John Bass, Catherine Bell, Gail and Tim Biesecker, the William Branch family, Ben Braswell, Vernon Bryant, Lucy and Bob Clary, Sheldon Cohen, Murphy Doyle, Trudy and Billy Duke, Merle and Fred Etheridge, Marie Fields, Mary Fran Fisher, Linda Garner, Christina Gregory, Peggy Howard, Joey Hudson, Richard Hunnings, Sarah Johnson, Kathy Laws, Patti and Lynn Little, Betsey and Tom Merritt, Jill and Steve Mitchell, Dennis Monds, Rodney Nelson, Brenda Newton, John Parker, the Portela family, Linda Ray, Paula and Billy Rogerson, Rex Stainback, Annette and Mal Stallings, Roma Taylor, Lou and Roger Warren, Randall Warren, the Bill White family, the Frank White family, Glenn Wiggs, Bob Williams, Jim Williams, Lib Wilson, and Barb and John Zsebehazy, and others.
Funeral services will be held at 1 pm on Monday June 12, 2017 at First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Joe Sandoval officiating. Receiving will take place from 11:30-12:45 at Wrenn, Clarke, and Hagan Funeral and Cremation Service prior to the service. Burial will follow the service in Cedarwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Roanoke Rapids Education Foundation—Joyce Crane Scholarship, PO Box 675, Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870, or to The Presbyterian Church, 16 East 5th Street, Roanoke Rapids NC 27870.
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