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Joyce "JE" Ellis

Joyce Laverne Merritt was the third child and only daughter of J. Lonnie and Jewell (Mitchell) Merritt born March 8, 1931. She passed away and headed for her Heavenly home on April 12, 2021 at the age of 90. She was born in and grew up in the big, green two-story Victorian house on the corner of Watkins and Highway 66 in Elk City, Oklahoma.


Joyce Ellis

Joyce’s parents Lonnie and Jewell owned Merritt’s Bakery, home of delicious sweets and pastries and the ever popular Merritt’s Fine bread! Jewell had a special sandwich recipe that she made fresh daily at the bakery and when you put it between two slices of that homemade bread, made a spectacular sandwich! In the 40s during the war, Joyce and childhood friend, Norman Martin would load their bicycle baskets with sandwiches and ride to the railroad station on Main Street and sell the sandwiches to the soldiers traveling through the country on the train.


Joyce was an excellent student and attended all 12 years in the Elk City school system. In high school she was a cheerleader, played saxophone in the band, starred in plays, was on the yearbook staff and was top 10% of her class. It was in the Elk City school system that she caught the eye of handsome James Ellis and the two became the perfect example of high-school sweethearts. At baccalaureate in May 1949, James proposed. She said yes, and only two months later the two became husband and wife.

Their marriage was at high noon on Sunday, July 17 and was the first and biggest wedding of the brand new 1st Baptist Church on Adams Street in Elk City. Over 700 attended the storybook wedding. James and Joyce’s incredible marriage lasted over 63 years and served as a guide book to many young couples of “how to do marriage right.”


Joyce and James’s love for the Lord and desire to serve Him in the first Baptist Church, lead them to over three decades as Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, choir trip sponsors, and everybody’s “favorite” chaperones at Falls Creek!


Joyce was a soloist in the church choir and was the “go to” for many, many weddings and funerals. Her beautiful, God-given soprano voice was a source of testimony and comfort for many over the years.


Joyce was a great mother to son Jimmy, and daughter Janet. She could always be counted on for school or play practice refreshments, quickly putting together a costume or choir outfit and the ability to throw together a last minute get together in the Ellis home.


James and Joyce worked together in the building business with Joyce’s parents for over 20 years. In the 80s, they bought the pro shop at the Elk City Country Club and as a team, welcomed golfers from all over to the friendliest and most hospitable golf shop in the world! Joyce always had a big bowl of candy on the counter so that golfers could start a round or “make the turn“ with a caramel or other sweet treat from Joyce!


Perhaps one of the most incredible gifts that Joyce had, was her talent for making pies! Cream pies were her specialty and many of the “sick and afflicted” were blessed with this uplifting gesture from the lady with a beautiful smile and bright blue eyes.


Joyce loved being a mother, but when she became a grandmother to Kylie Dawn in 1979 and Chase in 1983, her world exploded with joy! She was the quintessential grandmother, attending school and sporting events, family trips and did lots of spoiling! She is now a great grandmother to five and has been thrilled to be a part of their lives as well.


In 2012, she lost the love of her life when James died suddenly, but she was determined to continue to live a full and faith-filled life. Health challenges and natural disasters made her life difficult but she forged on with her love of the Lord, her family and friends.


She moved to Branson Missouri in 2017 to live with her daughter Janet. “JE” as she was nicknamed, was a bit of a celebrity by virtue of her appearances on Janet’s radio show and was often recognized as she was out and about - which really tickled the small town girl from Elk City America.


She will be missed by all who knew and loved her and we are grateful for her witness and testimony as well as her talents for leading many to Christ.


Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m, Thursday, April 15, 2021 at First Baptist Church in Elk City, Oklahoma. Doc Ware will officiate. Interment will be in Fairlawn Cemetery, Elk City, Oklahoma. Services have been enrusted to the care of Richard and Tammy Dugger and the staff of Martin-Dugger Funeral Home in Elk City, Oklahoma.


She was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, James; her parents Lonnie and Jewell Merritt and brothers Earl and Bill Merritt.


Those surviving are son Jim Ellis of Oklahoma City, OK; daughter Janet Ellis and Jennifer Gregory of Branson, MO; Daughter-in-law Connie Ellis of Eufaula, OK; granddaughter KyLee Ditata and Rich of Mustang, OK; grandson Chase Ellis and Sara of Oklahoma City, OK; Great grandchildren Kaige Knight, Kaidence Knight, Justice Ditata, Carter James Ellis and Bodhi Ellis, all of Oklahoma City, OK. We also need to mention her three “four legged” grandkids, Cinder, Bailey and Pearl who made her world a better place.


She will also be missed by a host of other family members and friends. Heaven is one happy place today and a little bit better as this sweet angel.


We invite you to leave a message of condolence, expression of sympathy or perhaps share a memory of Joyce at www.martin-duggerfuneralhome.com.


The family would like to invite all that cannot attend to watch the service live on Martin-Dugger Funeral Home Facebook page.

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