Joyce Victoria Ruso Saar

16 October, 19313 April, 2021

Joyce Ruso Saar, 89, passed away at home in Greenville on April 3. A loving mother, stepmother and grandmother, Joyce is survived by daughters Donnalee Key Wyman (Jack) of Greenville, and Deborah Saar Valis of Charlotte, NC, son Theo Demued Saar III (Becca) of Boiling Springs, and stepson David Morton Saar (Sally) of Carrollton, TX.

“Grandma Joyce” dearly loved her 13 grandchildren: Leah Wyman of Greenville, Maggie Apple (Patrick) of Raleigh, NC, Alex Valis of Greenville, Zach Valis of Charlotte, Aiden Valis of Rock Hill, SC, Annabelle, Baylee, Noah, and Finley Saar of Boiling Springs, Isaiah and Darius Navas also of Boiling Springs, Kathryn Saar (Mark Wiggans) of Salt Lake City, UT, Kristina Saar (Carlos Fierro) of Dallas, TX; and four great- grandchildren: Anna, Davis and Beau Apple of Raleigh and Max Wiggans of Salt Lake City.

An Albany, New York native, Joyce dedicated her early life to music, graduating from Syracuse University in 1953 with a BM in vocal performance. She went on to study at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she met and married her first husband, the late Donald Rochester Key. In the early 1960s Joyce moved from Boston to Pittsburg, Kansas where she became active in arts and community organizations, serving as president of the Pittsburg chapter of League of Women voters and on the League’s Kansas state Board of Directors. In 1966 she married the late Kansas state senator Theo Demued Saar Jr.

Known for her fierce independence, Joyce made a change in career paths mid-life, returning to Pittsburg State University to complete a Masters in Psychology. She went on to work as a clinical psychologist and addictions specialist for over 20 years.

She was employed at the SC Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, Spartanburg Area Mental Health and the SC Department of Corrections.

Perhaps her most satisfying work, though, came upon her retirement when she began a years-long commitment to volunteerism at Shriner’s Hospital for Children. There she contributed hundreds of hours and hand-knitted blankets to bring comfort to families being served there.

A member of Westminster Presbyterian Church for over 25 years, Joyce turned heads and drew smiles as tried to out-sing the choir— proclaiming her faith while making a ‘joyful noise’ with her bold soprano.

She was an avid reader and liberal thinker and so enjoyed her friends at The Life Center of Greenville where she was known for her outspokenness, witty banter and love of a good argument.

Mostly, Grandma Joyce loved even more fiercely than she argued for that which she believed in. She will be remembered for her vivacious energy, her strong will, and the unique ways she expressed care for those around her.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Joyce Victoria Ruso Saar

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Kathy Toohey

6 April 2021

Joyce was a special friend, very dear to my heart. She was bright, beautiful, and such a delight. She loved to talk, loved her family, friends and church, and her fur babies, sharing precious memories of all. I loved her energy and confidence as she would comfortably express her views, beliefs and opinions with ease. I’m so thankful for our friendship, her loving support, memorable stories and the laughter we shared.. Much love and deepest sympathy to your family and friends, Joyce. You will always have a special place in my heart, always loved and never forgotten. You can rest easy and peacefully now. We will meet again, love you, Kathy Toohey.