Joyce 'Joy' Eileen (Neal) Keil

Joyce (Neal) Keil
Joyce (Neal) Keil

Joyce Eileen Neil was born April 6, 1934, to Terrell H. Neal Sr. and Ida Maybelle nee Menke Neal on the family farm about 12 miles south of Oroville, Washington, a town close to the Canadian border. She passed away January 12, 2018, in Aurora, Colorado.

Joyce grew up on the family farm that later became a fruit orchard starting in 1945. She was the only girl with two older brothers, Terrell Jr. and Robert. Joyce was physically active and rode her bike on country roads. She remembered seeing Indians on horses travelling to a pow-wow on the road by the family farm as a child. As a teenager, Joyce picked apples, pears and peaches in her home area. She thinned apples on trees to enable the remaining apples to grow big.

She attended Oroville schools and graduated from Oroville High School, giving her Salutatorian speech on an ambulance stretcher. She was injured in a car accident in Canada on Feb. 8, 1952 and missed the rest of her senior year, but had enough credits to graduate. An article with a photograph of her on the stretcher appeared in the Wenatchee, Wash. newspaper. She was unaware of the article until someone sent the clipping to her.

Joyce worked as a teller and bookkeeper in banks in Oroville and Spokane, Wash. She married Calvin L. Keil, a USAF Airman, on Aug. 18, 1956 in Oroville. After a honeymoon to Canada they lived in Spokane. When their oldest child, Karen, was 18-months-old Calvin got orders to go to Thule, Greenland and later Labrador, Canada, and was away for one year. Joyce and Karen moved to Oroville to stay with Joyce’s parents. Calvin returned to Oroville and shortly after, they made the long cross country road trip to move to Florida, stopping in Calvin’s hometown, Redwood Falls, Minn. to see relatives. Calvin’s father, William Keil accompanied them for the rest of the trip to Florida. Joyce thoroughly enjoyed touring America during that cross country road trip in 1959.

In September 1960, Joyce survived Hurricane Donna unharmed with two small children, one aged three and one aged two and a half months. Calvin was away in Texas on military duty. She had a kerosene lamp and water in various containers including the bathtub. Neighbors hammered plywood boards over her front and back doors.

In Florida, Joyce was interested in the Space Program and persuaded her husband to drive their family to Cape Canaveral on the very first day it ever opened to the public, May 19, 1961. She and two of her children saw John Glenn’s rocket blast off into space from their home in 1962.

They lived in Spokane, Orlando, Florida, Wichita, Kansas, and Omaha, Nebr. during their military moves, finally settling in Denver in 1972.

Joyce Keil is survived by her husband, Calvin; four children, Karen Keil, Kathy Keil (Russel) Norris, Jeffrey Keil and Brenda Keil; two grandsons, Dustin (Catherine) Lee and Brandon (Kara) Lee and a great-granddaughter, Vera Rose Lee, all of Colorado, and many nieces and nephews and other relatives.

She was preceded in death by her parents, and two brothers, Terrell H. Neal, Jr., and Robert H. Neal.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in Joyce’s name to The American Heart Association (P.O. Box 841125, Dallas, TX 75284-1125) –OR- Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) (7910 Woodmont Ave., Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814).