OBITUARIO

Joyce Reeves Milsap

25 julio , 19416 septiembre , 2021

Joyce Reeves Milsap was born in Gainesville, Georgia. The vivacious blond was a head-turner; she stood out from the time she was a young girl with a personality as big as her heart. But it was at a dinner given by her cousin that Joyce Reeves met a young man who would change her life. Ronnie Milsap, a student at Young Harris College, was on the verge of a full scholarship to law school. The blind piano-player had been having some local success in regional R&B radio and clubs like the Royal Peacock; he liked the sound of Joyce’s voice, laughter and the way she loved life. After that dinner, she challenged the equally spirited musician to a foot race. When Milsap ran into an open car door and fell, she circled back and laughed, which only made Milsap love her more. It was the middle ‘60s, and everything felt possible. Joyce loved the music, Milsap’s nature and his will to play music where the funkiest people were.

Together, they started chasing a dream. “Sapphire,” as he affectionately christened her, wore her go-go boots, mini-skirts and pulled a trailer with his keyboard gear behind her VW Bug, carrying equipment when necessary. They were a pair, her with the white-blond hair and him with his cool sunglasses and chiseled jawline, making it work and falling deeper in love every day. When Ray Charles counseled Milsap, who’d hit the Top 20 with the Scepter Records release “Never Had It So Good,” to follow the music “because you’ve got music in your heart – and you need to follow your heart,” it was Joyce who stood by her man. Pretty, smart and hard-working, the pair took to the R&B club circuit to promote his singles. They married in 1965.

Always a fierce believer in her husband and the way he heard music, that faith sustained until 1974 when the athletic vocalist scored his first two #1s – “Pure Love” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends,” the latter also earning Milsap the first of his six Grammy Awards and the 1974 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year. The petite woman who’d cooked on hot plates in crummy motel rooms, backing a little trailer into downtown club loading docks’ faith was rewarded.

Just as importantly, the storybook love the pair shared created one of the most enduring songbooks in American history. Beyond literally “She Keeps The Home Fires Burning,” Joyce Milsap was the muse and inspiration for many of the Country Music Hall of Famer’s biggest hits: “Daydreams About Night Things,” “Smokey Mountain Rain,” “Show Her,” “Don’t You Know How Much I Love You,” “A Woman In Love” and “What A Difference You’ve Made in My Life,” as well as what the loss of that love might be informing “Almost Like A Song,” “Still Losing You,” “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It For The World”, “Only One Love in My Life and the 1985 and 1986 Grammy-winning “Lost in the ‘50s Tonight.” Joyce not only inspired the music, she was a constant source of song vetting. She was someone the future Country Music Hall of Fame inductee leaned on when it came to what people would respond to. With a voice that held the promise of what women needed, Milsap scaled not just the country, but the pop and adult contemporary charts over three decades. Their love created a sound and 40 #1 hits that defined romance from the mid-70s through the ‘90s.

“I always thought of them as a duo,” says former Sony Nashville Chairman Joe Galante, who started at the label in 1974. “Even though it was always the dynamic Ronnie Milsap, Joyce was everywhere and a true part of everything! Ronnie knew no bounds (as an artist and entertainer), and Joyce was there making those connections, filling in any gaps. She was a supporter, a guiding light and a defender when something wasn’t getting done... and because he couldn’t see faces, she’d be that person for him, too. “The smile and excitement she had, but also a real calm when it came to the music, it was contagious. Managers and agents come and go, but Joyce was always there, caring and filling in the missing pieces. I only have good memories of her, how she loved to laugh and the kind of difference she made for us all.” As fiercely as Joyce loved her husband, the pair shared that feeling for their only son Ronald Todd. While Todd preceded his mother in death, at the age of 49, he was waiting his mother’s arrival in heaven. Joyce was also the delighted and delightful grandmother to Kye, Mya, Wyler, and Asher, and the loving Aunt to many nieces and nephews, always quick with a phone call, a hug or hearing a story about one of their adventures.

No one was a stranger at the Milsap home. Joyce welcomed all, shared her love and many lessons about life to those lucky enough to know the family. Katie Cook, CMT: Country Music Television anchor, remembers, “Joyce welcomed me into her world with the love of a mother. I was a scrappy little punk when I started dating her son, Todd, at age 15. I wasn't sure she would accept me, but we quickly bonded. “She introduced me to the glamorous world of painted fingernails, perfume, rhinestones and glittery eyeshadow. She was a dose of Hollywood in Nashville, and I was enamored.” An avid reader, she was a constant presence on the road throughout her husband’s career. She loved him and the music he made so greatly, she would become incandescent when she listened from the side of the stage. With his high energy live shows, he always played for the fans, but he especially played for Joyce.

“There are no words, and not enough songs in the world to explain how much I love my Sapphire,” says the Georgia Music, North Carolina and County Music Hall of Famer. “She was the music and the feeling inside all of those songs, so if you loved my music, you understand some of how much I loved my beautiful, beautiful wife. It’s all in the songs, but she was even more. She was the love of my life, the mother of my son, the world’s happiest grandmother --- and someone who woke up every day curious and ready for whatever adventure she could get into. “When people tell me they love my music, I always smile, because that music is pure Joycee. We went through lean times laughing, good times beyond our imagination, tough times where we held on to each other for dear life. Blessedly/Thankfully, she’s in heaven with our Todd – and I know somehow from heaven, she’s still here with me every day, because that’s just how she was.”

She is preceded in death by her parents, Lewis and Pauline Reeves, her brothers, Dennis, Billy and Terry Reeves and her beloved son Todd Milsap.

She is survived by her husband Ronnie Milsap, brother Donald Reeves (Brenda), sister Kay Powell (Roy), grandchildren Kye Milsap, Mya Milsap, Wyler Milsap, Asher Milsap, and (bonus) Susy Jones, Victoria Piller, Zy Gagne, nieces and nephews, Carol Cosgrove, Linda Davis, Lisa Eure, Dennis Reeves Jr., Kelly Reeves, Tracey Wagoner, Kim Campbell, Donna Adkins, Donnie Reeves, Paula Reeves, Allyson Reeves-Land, Jessi Shaw, Will Stone, Adam Stone, Josh Powell, Lindsay Powell and Andrew Powell.

Due to COVID concerns, Joyce will have a private family service.

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Recuerdos

Joyce Reeves Milsap

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Billy Turner

13 noviembre , 2021

Ronnie,
I know how heart broken you must be, though by now a couple of months have helped slightly. I know Joyce was a huge key to your success. You’ve been my favorite singer for over 30+ years. I’ve seen how you’ve continued to soldier on, and I’m hoping to be able to attend your concert on 12/06/21, when I’m home in Las Vegas. Please stay strong. I know you are able.
Billy Turner

Sherry S

17 octubre , 2021

Dear Ronnie, I wanted to let you know that my heart is broken over the tremendous losses that you have suffered. I can only imagine how much you are hurting. You and Joyce were two of the kindest people I have ever met. Joyce was always willing to share her love and laughter with the world, now the world mourns with you. Joyce was such a beautiful lady. I loved her. I don't think I thanked the two of you enough for your kindness towards me. I know that Joyce is still watching over you, laughing with you and listening to you sing. My prayers are with you and your family.
Sherry

Kaitlin Guy

14 octubre , 2021

Dearest Ronnie and the rest of the Milsap family I am so sorry for your loss I am a huge fan of yours Ronnie I love all your music though your wife is now in heaven know that she is always going to be with you forever and always and though we can't feel your pain know that all of your fans are praying for you rest in peace Mrs Milsap you're the love of Ronnie's life and in all the songs he dedicated to you that is proof of his love for you, you will forever be missed sincerely your biggest fan Kaitlin PS I know it's a month late and I apologize that I am sending condolences late but I just found out that Mrs Milsap passed away and I am completely stunned because I know how much she meant to Ronnie your biggest fan Kaitlin🕊️🕊️🙏🙏🙏

Sandra Brancel

16 septiembre , 2021

Ronnie, It was with sorrow that we learned of Joyce's death. As President Russell M. Nelson states "Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the deepest expressions of pure love. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” (D&C 42:45.) Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life." We know that your love is waiting for you on the other side of the veil. May you receive the peace and comfort that only Christ our Savior can give you. With love, Howard and Sandra (Bristol) Brancel

Gene Johnson

13 septiembre , 2021

If you are anything as pretty and so heart warming as Ron’s music. You must have been one great great lovely lady.
Rest In Peace... we all love you ..the Earth lost a precious precious person.
God Bless you and Ron.
I listen to your music everyday..

Mike Jones

12 septiembre , 2021

RIP. Ms Milsap . Ronnie I have been a fan of yours for ever ! Prayers & Strength as you go through a difficult time may the lord guide you 🙏🏻.

Julie Heatherly

12 septiembre , 2021

In the music business Joyce was the “real deal”…genuine, fun , kind , energetic and with that consistent beautiful spirit of hers. The minute you saw Ronnie and Joyce together you could feel the love and admiration that they shared. When Bob and I moved to Nashville in the 80’s she was one of the first “label wives” to reach out to me and make me feel welcome while Bob settled into his new position with RCA-I will never forget that gracious gesture. Ronnie, please know that I am thinking of you with sympathy and love.

Donna Ashworth

11 septiembre , 2021

Ronnie and all the family and close friends.

I was so shocked and sad to learn of Joyce's passing. My most heartfelt and sincere sympathy to you all. She is back with Todd now.

Donna Ashworth

Beth M. Dodd

11 septiembre , 2021

To Ronnie and family:

Words cannot express how sorry I am to hear of your loss. Sending love and prayers from my family to yours.

Beth M. Dodd
Richard Smith
Collen Smith

Sandra LaBlanche'

11 septiembre , 2021

I grew up playing with Ronnie at Blind School In Raleigh, NC. We were very young. My Mother with me visited the school often. I have been a Ronnie fan for many decades. I have seen him in concert in The DE & PA area in person. My deepest heartfelt Sympathy to you for the loss of your Dear Joyce who was always there for You Ronnie. May God comfort You and Your Family!!
Sandra J. LaBlanche'

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