Joyce Luella Booth
September 8, 1923 – May 4, 2020
MARBLEHEAD - Joyce (McKay) Booth, formerly active in Marblehead town affairs, died on May 4, 2020, in her 97th year. She loved the town and its history and was a long-time board member of the Marblehead Female Humane Society and member of the Marblehead Historical Commission, Marblehead Museum & Historical Society, the VFW, Old Marblehead Improvement Association (OMIA), and Marblehead Little Theatre.
Joyce Luella McKay was born in the fishing village of Roseway, Nova Scotia, on Sept. 8, 1923, the second of ten children of J. Donald McKay and Agatha M. Foster. They moved to Salem in 1924 and in 1929 to Marblehead, where Mr. McKay worked as a carpenter and building contractor and Agatha’s mother, Mary J. (Wilson) Foster, who lived with them, worked as a nurse at the Danvers State Hospital. The family resided on East Orchard Street in the Devereux section and belonged to St. Stephen’s Methodist Church (then on Summer Street).
Joyce attended Samuel Roads Jr. Grammar School and Marblehead Junior and Senior High School. After being graduated from Salem Hospital School of Nursing, she enlisted in 1944 in the U. S. Army. Early in 1945, she crossed the Pacific in a transport with hundreds of nurses and doctors, preparatory to what was thought to be a massive invasion of the Japanese homeland. Stationed on Bataan at the time of Japan’s surrender, Lieutenant McKay was sent briefly to Hiroshima and stayed on in Japan for some months after the war, serving in Army hospitals. Her younger brothers Donald and John also served in the armed forces in World War II.
Post-war, she worked as a private-duty nurse in Marblehead. On May 20, 1950, she married Robert A. Booth, whom she had met at an officers’ club. A native of East Boston, he had served in the Pacific as a PBY-Catalina navigator in the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron of the U. S. Army Air Corps. They made their home in Marblehead for the rest of their lives and had a family of four. Mr. Booth worked in investments in Boston as a vice president at Vance, Sanders & Co., later Eaton Vance.
Joyce and Bob were mainstays of the Democratic Town Committee and of the Marblehead Little Theatre in the 1950s and 60s, both acting in many plays. Fashionable and an expert seamstress, Joyce sewed most of her own clothes as well as costumes. For years, she volunteered in sales at the Salem store of the North Shore Children’s Friend. She headed fundraising for the Gerry School PTA and in the 1990s was instrumental in keeping open the Gerry School and the Franklin Street Fire Station when both were threatened with closure. For many decades she was a faithful and active member of St. Stephen’s Methodist Church, through which she came to serve on the board of the Marblehead Female Humane Society.
After her husband’s death in 2000, she continued to reside on Washington Square and was a notable gadfly at selectmen’s meetings, as well as active in political campaigns, OMIA, and veterans’ groups. She was ever mindful of the sacrifices of those who served in the military and their families, and was proud to be the chief speaker at a town Memorial Day observance. Joyce remained active into her 90s, traveling abroad and to Nova Scotia, and entertaining friends from Sweden, for whom she had served as an exchange-student host for several years. She had many grandchildren and enjoyed their company.
In the fall of 2017 Joyce, then 94, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, which left her impaired. She was able to attend the most recent St. Stephen’s Christmas service, her last social outing.
Of her siblings, she was predeceased by Louise, Jean (and husband Frederick Dodge), Donald (and wife Lucy nee Rousseau), and Dorothy (and husband Robert Graves), and by her sister-in-law Patricia (Snow) McKay; survivors are John F. W. (Jack) McKay of Marblehead, Estelle (Teddi) McKay and Alden McKay of Florida, Marilyn (Mrs. Charles Ploss) of New Hampshire, and Julie (Mrs. Jose Alonso) of Melbourne, Australia.
She is also survived by her children, Robert Booth, of Marblehead; John Booth, of Hanover, Maine; Donald Booth and wife Ruby of Rowley; and Molly (Mrs. Scott Waniak) of Marblehead; by twelve grandchildren, Katie and Jack Loveday; Sara and Winston Booth; Lydia and Harrison Booth; Edward, Robert, Molly, Ellen, Victoria, and Jane Booth; and five great-grandchildren.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Stephen's Methodist Church, Marblehead, with burial of ashes in Waterside Cemetery Veteran's Section with full military honors at a later date to be announced. Arrangements are under the care of Eustis & Cornell of Marblehead. To share a memory or offer condolences to Joyce's family please visit eustisandcornellfuneralhome.com.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Joyce Luella Booth
Louis and Laura Meyi
May 24, 2020
Dear Booth family folks,
We offer condolences on the death of Joyce. She was a friend to us at church for over forty years, and she enriched the lives of all around her. During her decline, we still can picture her smile when we greeted her at Abbot Hall Veterans’ Day events and at times she could make it to church. We will continue to relish that wonderful occasion when your family brought her to church at Christmas 2019. We will miss Joyce very much.
Louis and Laura Meyi
May 17, 2020
I first met Joyce (Mrs. Booth) in 1970 when I operated a newspaper delivery service in Marblehead. Her son Don became one of my top newsboys and son John became a driver. Both guys were great guys, good company and unfailingly reliable. They were a chip off the old block(s). Just like their mother, they were both cheerful and full of fun. As I got to know Mrs. Booth, I came to see her as a model, a real leader. She was eons ahead of me in maturity and always seemed to turn a kind eye towards me and the rest of flawed humanity. When later I became a neighbor on Washington Street, she was the first to welcome me and my family. She was a love and will be missed by all who knew her. My deep and sincere regrets to the family. Sterling and Jane Rowe
May 15, 2020
So sorry to hear of your mom's passing. I always enjoyed hearing, "Joyce is coming down." Good times.