It is with great sadness that the family of Joyce Arlene Heilman (Sambray), announce her peaceful passing on August 6, 2023 with family by her side and “her” Elvis singing sweet hymns. It has been a difficult year for her with rapid physical and cognitive decline. Joyce was ready to say goodbye and go to Heaven. We celebrate that she is now in the arms of Jesus and is reunited with her loving husband Jack.
Born on September 28, 1936 in Fort William, ON, she lived most of her younger years in Slate River. She attended Fort William Collegiate Institute and was a proud McKellar Nursing Grad, Class of 1957. She had a long and fulfilling career as a Registered Nurse at McKellar Hospital, LPH, Grandview Lodge, Pinewood Court, Can Car, and Westmount Hospital. She touched many with her generous, and caring heart. Joyce spent her life generously taking care of others both as an RN and as a doting wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She loved to express her love through food. Those close to her have enjoyed more pies, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, and tea biscuits than could be imagined! Joyce loved to open her house to others and was a generous host. She always managed to whip up enough food to feed unexpected guests (and most likely gave up her own portion to do so).
The dream house her and Jack built together at Trout Lake carried so many memories of good times together with family and friends. She loved deeply and was touched by simple gestures of love extended to her. She kept every card given to her, all stained with her tears of joy that fell while reading each one. Joyce loved to travel with her husband and family. She enjoyed many motor home trips across Canada and the US, as well as a few extended winter getaways to Florida and trips to Asia to visit her daughter and family.
Joyce married the love of her life, Jack, in 1957 and they shared 46 wonderful years together. Family meant everything to Joyce and her world revolved around them. Being surrounded by family was her “happy place”. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and beloved fur babies brought her much pride and joy.
She will be lovingly remembered by her children: Bob Heilman (Lanette), Brian Heilman (Laura), and Heather (Bob) Poulter; grandchildren: Jason Heilman, Brittney Heilman (Derek), Ginny Heilman (Jake), Amanda (Ian) Roulston, Adam (Tori) Poulter; step-grandchildren: Danielle (Ellis) Myyrylainen, and Jake Cotter (Samantha); great-grandchildren: Jack & Ayla, Reid, Zion & Jasper, and Jonah; step great-grandchildren: Hailan & Liam, Callie & Colby, and Nash & Beau; sister, Shirley Bean; brother, Bob Sambray; sisters-in-law Ruth, Gloria, and Marlene; along with numerous nieces and nephews. Joyce was predeceased by her husband, Jack Heilman; and parents, Frank & Lillian Sambray.
Joyce was a woman of faith, and church was a big part of her life. While living at Trout Lake, Lappe Lutheran Church was her extended family. After moving to town, Joyce enjoyed attending Redwood Park church with her family.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the dedicated staff that cared for mom along her journey to her final resting place. Thanks to staff at Sister Leila Greco, Willow Unit at SJCG, and special thank you to all the caring staff on Blue Heron at Southbridge Pinewood. Your patience, care, and compassion for mom and her family did not go unnoticed, especially during mom’s final days. We truly appreciate all the dedicated health care staff we encountered.
A graveside service for Joyce’s family and friends will take place on Tuesday, August 15 at 11 am at Sunset Memorial Gardens, 3200 Oliver Road, where Joyce will be laid to rest with her husband Jack. Following the service, a luncheon reception will take place at the Westfort Prosvita, 721 Gore St. W.
If you would like to donate in her memory, as a breast cancer survivor, Joyce’s wishes were for donations to be directed to the Northern Cancer Fund at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation.