Joyce Josephine Burton Smith Trulear, a civil rights advocate, died on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.
Born Oct. 7, 1927, she was the first of three children born to Douglas Burton Sr. and Eva Lee Powers Burton of Wildwood, New Jersey.
She attended #4 Elementary School through grade 8 and Wildwood High School. She continued her education at Winston-Salem Teacher’s College and graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education.
Within a few years of returning home from Shaw, she married Mitchell Smith and from that union Joyce gained a stepson, Calvin Smith.
In 1983 she married Charles F. Trulear, IV and gained a stepson and stepdaughter, Charles V (Skip) and Susan.
She lived an active life from her early years into her adulthood. She loved to sing and her beautiful voice was featured as the main soloist at Asbury AME Church in Wildwood. She sang in her high school glee club and with the New Jersey All-State Choir. At the Shore Theater she won the Wildwood Merchant’s talent show for best singer. Her winning entry was “Stormy Monday.” She also had a singing group that included her sister, Sonia, and friend, Evelyn Frazier. Their group would travel to and sing at the other churches in town. She played trumpet and the bass drum in her high school marching band as well as piano for the Asbury AME Church’s junior choir. High school summers where spent waitressing at her Uncle Joe’s restaurant, The Jefferson. During this time She was also mastering the art of diplomacy, showing up as referee for the fights between her younger siblings, Sonia and Douglas.
She was also athletic and played basketball for her high school team. In college she added Modern Dance to her repertoire. She continued to exercise into her later years, keeping her body healthy and strong. She enjoyed quilting with friends; she was an avid reader on her own and with bookclubs with good friends. She loved traveling and visited Paris and Spain as well as more local destinations to visit family and friends. She was also active in the Civil Rights Movement and focused her participation through initiatives at the Church of the Advocate on Diamond Street in Philadelphia.
After completing her studies, Trulear was employed as a classroom teacher where she positively impacted the lives of hundreds of students. Although she spent the vast majority of her working years in the Philadelphia School District, she got her professional start in the Millville, New Jersey School District. During her extensive tenure as a teacher, she specialized in Reading and Language Skills and became a resource not only to students but to staff, providing workshops for teachers and for parents. Trulear shared her love for art with her students by implementing a PATHS Collaborative Grant entitled, “Identifying With the World of Art.” This allowed every student in her school to visit the exhibit “The Hidden Heritage: Afro American Art, 1800-1950” at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. It also allowed the school to purchase art by Black Artists for display in the school and to have current Black Artists visit the school and discuss their work with the children. In 1987, during her tenure at Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey School, she was nominated for “The Excellence in Teaching Award.”
Over the years shee enjoyed hosting her family for Thanksgiving and Easter dinners and any other good reason to get together. She also enjoyed providing delicious meals for her husband’s fraternity meetings. She and Chap also developed a love for gardening and kept a garden plot at Saul High School in Roxborough for several years. Fresh veggies became part of delicious dishes which adorned her table. Whether a simple visit or a celebration, she enjoyed sharing a good meal and game night with her loved ones, especially her nieces and grandchildren. Both occasions were likely to be marked by a toast of the bubbly, a fitting representation of Trulear’s zest for life. She had a huge heart and was a tremendous friend and confidante to many. She is recalled fondly for her compassion and support of friends and family. She was an outstanding caregiver for her mother and her in-laws in their later years and also her friend Agnes. She touched many lives and will be missed by all who knew her.
She was preceded in death by her brother Leon Powers.
She leaves to cherish her memory her husband, Charles (Chappie); stepsons, Calvin Smith (Herta) and Charles (Skip) Trulear, V (Stacye); stepdaughter, Susan Trulear Hale; son-in-law, Duane Hale; grandchildren Charles Trulear, VI, Daniel Trulear, Vanessa Hale, and Aliyah Hale; siblings Sonia Porter and Douglas Burton, Jr.; nieces, including Chan Burton, Faith Nicole Burton, Catresa (Cookie) Meyers, and Juanita Meyers; and cousins.
A gathering of reflection and celebration of her life will take place at 2 p.m. on Dec. 7 in The Mark at The Watermark, 2 Franklin Town Blvd.