Joyce Thelma Longerbeam Turney, a resident of South Pasadena for 58 years, passed away peacefully of natural causes at the age of 95 in Pasadena, California, on Good Friday, April 10, 2020, of natural causes. She was not a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our family wishes to thank the caregivers at The Highlands in Pasadena for their loving care of our mother, sister, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Joyce was born Feb 28, 1925, daughter of Koert and Marie (Forbis) Longerbeam at the Longerbeam family home in Downey, Iowa. The family moved quite a bit trying to find work, eventually settling in Wister, Oklahoma, during the Great Depression on a little farm that belonged to Joyce’s great-aunt and uncle. She graduated from Wister High School and attended Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) in Stillwell, Oklahoma. Following her family’s move west, Joyce came to Highland Park in Los Angeles, California, in 1943 and found work in the Information Bureau and Personnel Department at the Los Angeles Times.
Joyce met Francis Goding Turney through the Highland Park Baptist Church where both families attended. They were married there on March 14, 1944. After Francis’s naval service in World War II, they eventually settled in Redlands, where Joyce was very active in community affairs, local Democratic politics, union organizing, and raising her growing family.
In 1962, the Turneys moved into their beloved “Big Green House” on Berkshire Avenue in South Pasadena. Joyce continued her political activities, serving as Coordinator of the California Democratic Council in Los Angeles. In 1965, she began her career as Postmaster of South Pasadena, an appointment from President Lyndon Johnson and a position which she held for many years.
Always seeking new challenges, Joyce entered Loyola Law School as a night student in 1972. She graduated and passed the California Bar Exam in 1976. In 1977, she took a leave of absence from the South Pasadena Post Office when she was elected as the first female president of the National Association of Postmasters, a post she held for two years in Washington D.C. In that capacity, she testified before Congress on several issues related to the U.S. Postal Service. Joyce continued working in Washington for an additional year as a legal representative for the U.S. Postal Service.
After retiring from the Postal Service in 1990, Joyce continued her civic activities. She volunteered at Legal Aid of Los Angeles, giving free legal advice to the poor. Joyce was always deeply involved in Democratic party politics. From serving as a “Golden Girl” at the Democratic convention in 1960 that nominated John F. Kennedy, to volunteering with many local, state, and national campaigns, politics was her greatest love after her family. Joyce actively participated in the campaign of Edmund G. “Pat” Brown for Governor of California as well as the campaigns of Jack Scott, Adam Schiff and Bill Clinton. She was very active after her retirement in the South Pasadena Democratic Club and she continued annual trips to Washington D.C., to serve on the National Association of Postmasters Credit Union Board for many years. She was also active in community civic service organizations such as Soroptimist International of Pasadena and the Pasadena YWCA.
Joyce was a member of Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena for 50 years. She served in many volunteer positions there over the years including President of the Board of Trustees.
Joyce was also extremely accomplished at the home arts of needlework, sewing, knitting, and baking. She sewed many treasured outfits for her children and grandchildren. For many years, she even made the wedding cakes for all the family weddings! She was truly a Renaissance woman.
Joyce was predeceased by her husband Francis in 2008, and her brothers Dr. Jerrold Longerbeam and Robert Longerbeam.
She is survived by her five children, all graduates of South Pasadena High School: Clarice Turney ‘63 (Barbara Gardner) of Riverside; Debbie Bieber ‘66 (Klaus) of Sandy, Utah; Terry Turney ‘68 (Camille) of Avila Beach; Jerry Turney ‘72 of South Pasadena; and Jacqueline Halpin ‘78 (Peter) of Altadena.
Joyce is also survived by her sister Jacqueline Kanaga of Green Valley, Arizona, and by her brother Gordon Longerbeam of Livermore, California.
Joyce was adored by her 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren on whom she completely and enthusiastically doted. Fran and Joyce were two of the most generous parents and grandparents. They supported us all in so many ways and will be dearly missed.
A memorial will be held in late summer at Neighborhood Church in Pasadena.