Obituary of Joy Harshman
Elva Joy (Wright) Harshman, age 96, passed from this life to her Savior’s presence on January 21, 2024, at home. She was born on June 23, 1927, near Mt. Airy, Maryland, to the late Raymond Jugertha Wright and Elva Naomi Spurrier Wright.
Joy is survived by her children; James Paul Harshman (Judy), Dianne Faith Harshman Williams (Niles) and Denise Annette Harshman Barter (Bob); her 8 grandchildren: James Vaughan Harshman (Chrissy), Paul Leonard Harshman (Laura), Alice Joy Harshman Lander (Michael), and Andrew Raymond Harshman (Krissy), Derek Ryan Williams (Helena), Jeremy Don Williams (Heather), Marni Dianne Williams Lun (Matt), and Rachel Abigail Barter.; her 18 great-grandchildren: Delaney Harshman Almond (Austin), Aaron Harshman, James Robert (JR) Harshman, Jason Harshman, Maya Lander, Eliza Lander, Zoe Lander, Zachary Harshman, Carter Harshman, Eli Harshman; Tyler Williams (Nikki), Reese Williams, Hailey Williams, Braden Williams, Jarrett Williams, Molly Lun, and Madeline Lun. She is also survived by her sister, Rose Wright Harne, and her sister-in-law, Grace Harshman Winpigler.
Joy was predeceased by her parents, above, her husband, Paul Herbert Harshman, and two brothers, Raymond Spurrier Wright and James Kenneth (Bo) Wright.
Joy was a devoted wife, deeply loved mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and friend. Most of all, she was a follower of Jesus and a simple woman of prayer.
She met Paul Herbert Harshman on a skating trip to Braddock Heights on a blind date set up by his sister, Grace, she thought he was so cute, love blossomed, and they married on June 28, 1945 at Marvin Chapel Methodist Church near Mt. Airy, Maryland. Three children, mentioned above, were born to them.
Joy was born in her maternal grandparents’ home. When she was two years old her father rented the farm “up the hill” where she lived until she married. The house had no running water or electricity. The outhouse was up the hill and if you left the door open you could sit and watch the train go by on the B&O railway. She milked cows in the barn before school and separated milk. Skim milk was given to the pigs and calves and the cream was used to make butter. The only heat in the farmhouse came from the wood burning cook stove and a coal burner in the living room. Electricity came when she was in high school.
Joy loved to tell on herself in later life. As a young teen, she and her siblings pooled their money and bought a pack of cigarettes. They went over to the railroad and sat on the fence and smoked their cigs and cussed! BRATS! They never learned or used those words at home. Then they chewed coffee grounds to cover the odor.
Of course, Joy got married in church. Her sister Rose, and Buddy (Ernest Harne, Jr) were married in the “parlor” at home. Rose wore a blue dress and Joy wore a PINK dress?? What?? So odd, as Joy ALWAYS wore blue!! While the wedding was in progress, they had put Faith (as a baby) down for a nap upstairs and just prayed that she stayed asleep through the ceremony. During the ceremony, Buddy’s alarm went off! He didn’t want to miss his wedding?? They held their breath, but Faith did not awaken! ALSO, Raymond Wright (their father) refused to ‘give away’ either of his girls. He did not walk either down the aisle.
Paul (her husband) developed farmer’s lung and was often sick with pneumonia and the winters were just too hard in the cold of Maryland. In 1956 his doctors told him if he wanted to live he had to move to a warmer climate. So all was packed up and the family headed south with a trailer and no job, just the address of the Florida International Harvester headquarters in Jacksonville where he was given a list of dealers for possible employment. With a truck pulling the 8 by 36 foot trailer, loaded with frozen food in a chest freezer, the hunt was on! Mom and Dad, Jim and Faith. After several interviews they ended up in Bradenton and lived in that trailer for 2 years in the Manatee Trailer Park in a lot on the corner of 23rd Street East and 7th Avenue East. Then Denise was on the way, and they moved into the home on 27 St East where she lived until the year 2020. Her grandson, Derek, still owns that home today. The move was good; Paul lived another 30 years in the warmer climate. Thirty precious years.
Joy enjoyed walking for recreation, and serving her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all children. Over the years Joy worked at various jobs including seamstress, house cleaner, and wallpaper hanger, for which she was featured in the Bradenton Herald and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. But her greatest job was volunteering at the church.
Immediately upon arriving in Bradenton, they inquired about a Methodist Church and found that Manatee Methodist Church was only a few blocks away and attended there on that first Sunday in Manatee. The folks there made all feel really welcome and like the family belonged there. (Well, maybe except for the elderly couple who let them know they were sitting in their spot in the second pew!!) There was never a need to search elsewhere for a church home. In true Methodist form, within weeks both Joy and Paul were actively participating in all the church had to offer.
Many people profess to be Christian. Joy did not have to profess it…she lived a devout Christian life every single day. She was a most faithful servant, and a model for countless others. Joy did not ever seek recognition for her works, in fact she shied away from being in the limelight. She just did what she felt was right and good.
Over her 65 years as a member of Manatee Methodist Church, Joy served in just about every position possible at one time or another. She treasured participating in and leading United Methodist Women, praying for missions with her church prayer group, and serving as trustee. Most precious to her were the 15 years that she and Paul led the Youth Groups at church. They poured their hearts into working with the youth. For years she cooked meals for the youth, took them on countless trips, had overnights in the Fellowship Hall and so much more. As an older woman, Joy has received warm messages from many of her former teens acknowledging the impact she had on their lives. This meant a lot to Joy.
As Paul’s health declined, Joy remained his faithful partner and caregiver until his all too soon death in 1986 after 41 years of marriage.
Joy was a very active participant in a group who met monthly or more in the church hall, with members coming from other churches as well as her own. They were a group who started out as “Scrapbookers” and eventually became “Crafters” expanding the array of projects people were working on. What a wonderful experience of just getting together, sharing, learning from one another, sharing food and fellowship. Often it was hard to get them to stop working and go home!!
Joy was also known as the “cookie lady”. Every Christmas season her kitchen turned into a cookie factory as she prepared between 3000 and 4000 cookies. In fact she had to buy a heavy duty mixer to handle that much dough.She made a variety of kinds of cookies and delivered them to friends, and even to her children’s places of employment. And all year long the cookie jar was full in case a grandchild came by!
Some of Joy’s involvement at church included:
UMW President, VP, Reading Program, Secretary, Treasurer (at various times, of course). UMW ladies used to meet in homes, each hostess providing refreshments and most of all friendships.
Program Chairman UMW
Membership directory maker for UMW
Trustee, chair and member many years
Rummage Sale Leader. Chairman some years, worker all years until discontinued
Financial Secretary of the church
Sunday School Teacher, Elementary
Youth Leader for 13 years, teaching Jr and Sr High Schoolers
Methodist Youth Fellowship every Sunday night. UMW furnished MYF Sunday dinners for the youth
Sunday School superintendent
Staff Parish Relations Committee
Sew n Sew leader/quilt maker. This group has made hundreds and hundreds of child size colorful quilts which are all donated to migrant children via the Migrant Tea and several other outlets.
Migrant Tea – active participant in planning, food, hosting other area churches
Delegate to Annual Conference
Leesburg Women’s Retreat
Supplier of Deviled Eggs and Cookies on MANY Occasions – in particular, in recent years each Wednesday night a Potluck dinner was held in the hall. Joy ‘ALWAYS’ brought her famous Deviled Eggs. She would not dare show up without them. How many eggs has she has cooked and peeled over the years? It’s a huge number.
Husband, Paul drove the church bus on Sundays for years, to pick up children for church.
Joy drove the church bus to take UMW women to the District Meetings
Participant in many Bible Studies
Church hosted Wednesday night dinners for many years. Ladies of the church cooked the meals and charged only enough to cover the costs of supplies. Joy was the Chief Baker and Dessert Maker…..breads, cornbread, Angel Flake Biscuits, cobblers, cakes. She even went out alone and picked fresh strawberries, cleaned them and the same day made strawberry shortcake for all. YUM!!!
Church Historian: In 2020 a dream came true regarding church history. Joy was successful after years of trying, in securing the Manatee County Historical Society delegates to come and participate in opening of the huge old safe which resides in what is now the “Joy Hall”. Ancient documents were revealed and are being permanently preserved. It’s amazing - handwritten records of baptisms, marriages, old signatures and dates, records of activities. Each piece is being measured, photographed, and preserved using white gloves and special methods. That old safe is so large and so heavy that the hall was actually built around it! Joy made MANY scrapbook albums documenting different activities of the church in more recent years with photographs and details.
For many years Mom served as Sunshine Chairman of the UMW and church. She sent custom home-made greeting cards to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, births, sympathy and many many “Thinking of You” cards. Each one has her signature ‘butterflies’ on it, at least one on every single card. She spent most of her later days on this project, from making each card, to record keeping, personalizing them, and mailing!
Joy was amazingly healthy all of her life, but she was aging. It was very hard for her to accept that she had slowed down and was no longer able to live alone, or climb ladders, or paint the house. She moved in with Faith a few years ago for safety, good food and lots of TLC. Due to the Covid pandemic, there were a lot of ‘staying home’ and church services attended online.
The latter years of her life were marked with pain and a lack of physical abilities. Can you imagine the homecoming in heaven for Joy?? Once again, she can stand straight as an arrow and think with a perfect mind!! Her faith will lead her to bow humbly before the One who saved her.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that if one wishes, to please make a donation in her memory to Manatee Life Church.