William Ballard Joyner of Wenham, MA, June 21, 1941 – September 10, 2022
Predeceased by his parents Gertrude (Nivell) and Julius “Jay” Ballard Joyner, he is survived by his wife of 56 years Frances, his daughter Amy and son-in-law Sean Canavan of Boston, MA, and his grandchildren Caroline and Will. He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather who touched the lives of many with his humor and his gentle spirit.
Born in New York City, he was raised in Washington, DC and Fitchburg, MA. After receiving his B.A. from Boston University, his M.A. from the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in English with a focus on Chaucer from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he went on to a long career in technical writing at the Digital Equipment Corporation, Bay Networks and Nortel. In addition to the rather dry writing he did professionally, he was always working on a short story or a mystery novel in his free time and in retirement.
But music, and especially jazz, was his avocation of most importance. Initially self-taught at the piano, he later sought lessons from a talented professional who helped him to improve his “chops.” Playing with the DEC Big Band, as part of a trio with a drummer and double bassist, and even solo sometimes at the Commodore in Beverly, MA, brought him so much enjoyment and pride, and for as long as he could, he practiced daily. At the start of the pandemic, upon learning that his granddaughter would continue her piano lessons virtually, he mused that he might consider looking into the same kind of arrangement for himself, as there was always room for improvement.
Bill enjoyed traveling with Fran to many destinations in Europe and the US, most recently to Spain and New Mexico. Sometimes Amy was invited, as on some memorable trips in the early 2000’s to Western Ireland, Normandy and Brittany, France, Italy, and down the Natchez Trace to New Orleans. He was a wonderful tour guide with a wealth of knowledge (especially literary) and a keen memory of streets and routes in cities last visited years earlier. An enthusiastic cook and charcoal grill master, his North Carolina-style barbecue and spicy cheese straws will be missed and emulated, along with countless other specialties.
Bill was the best dad and an even better grandfather, a role he adored. He saw his grandchildren frequently, and delighted in hearing about their school and sports activities, and he spent countless hours drawing and reading with them. Witty, knowledgeable on endless topics, and always ready with a colorful turn of phrase, what his family will miss most is simply the gift of chatting with him.
Lastly, Bill was a great reader, always juggling multiple books at a time, plus the New Yorker and the like. Just prior to his death, he had finished War and Peace, but hadn’t yet committed to his next book. He would probably appreciate the poetry of that.
Services were private. In lieu of flowers, donations to honor Bill may be made to the Central Park Conservancy for the upkeep of the Duke Ellington Memorial 14 East 60th. St., NY, NY 10022. Assisting the Joyner family is the Morris Funeral Home of Ipswich. To send a letter of condolence to the Joyner family please go to: MorrisFH.com .
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