She was born in Chicago on February 13, 1942, the daughter of Allen J. and Inez R. (nee Samppala) Schimke. The family moved to Wonder Lake in 1947. Joyce attended McHenry High School and graduated in 1959.
She attended Northern Illinois University from 1959 to 1960 and transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago to study illustration and painting. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1963. Joyce continued to live in Chicago, and due to her charm and hospitality, her apartment was a popular gathering place for the Art Institute crowd. Joyce developed friendships there that she maintained for a lifetime. Joyce thrived in Chicago and enjoyed the fashion, art, culture, and music the city had to offer. Living in Chicago also provided Joyce the opportunity to spend time with her beloved Aunt Elsie Schimke, after whom she was named.
In 1966, Joyce married Edward Michael Fisher, a decorated Army medevac helicopter pilot (Dustoff) in Vietnam (1967-68) who was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star with V device, 15 Air Medals, and the Combat Medic Badge. In 1968-69, the couple was stationed in Mainz, Germany.
Joyce and Michael returned to Chicago, and their daughter, Johanna, was born in 1970. In 1974, Joyce opened an antique shop, The Peasant Patch in Ridgefield, Illinois, with friend Judy Ham (formerly Koch.) Joyce moved to Woodstock in 1976, and she and Judy started a decorative quilted pillow business also called The Peasant Patch. For the next 40 years, Joyce’s handcrafted home goods were sold at boutiques, gift shops, and galleries across the country, including Yankee Peddler in Hinsdale, Folkworks Gallery in Evanston, and Craftland in Providence, Rhode Island. She also exhibited at regional and national gift and craft shows including Lambs Farm Craft Fair and Fair Diddley on the historic Woodstock Square.
While in Woodstock, Joyce attended the Woodstock Congregational Unitarian Universalist Church. She was a force of love and hospitality for all those who knew her and often donated her fierce sewing skills to school plays, dance recitals, and community theater performances. Known by her daughter’s high school friends as a “cool mom,” Joyce’s home was the place where they would congregate after school and on the weekends.
In 1989, Joyce started work at Pioneer Center of McHenry County as a case manager with adults with developmental disabilities. During her 13-year tenure she served as a QMRP in client and family support, managed group homes, and was manager of intake and central records. Joyce joined Options & Advocacy for McHenry County in 2002 and worked there for 15 years until her retirement in December 2017. During her 28-year career as a case manager, Joyce assisted hundreds of families and individuals in the community and ensured they got the care and support they needed.
Joyce was a sweet, loving person who loved cats, interior decorating, the theater, classical music, gardening, travel, antiquing, and the fine arts. Her family remembers her for her wonderful culinary skills. She was always researching new recipes and brought family favorites to holiday parties such as magic cookie bars and pear lime Jell-O. Joyce was a worthy opponent at games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit, and her siblings will concur that she rarely lost a game. Her many great-nieces and great-nephews looked forward to making holiday crafts with Aunty Joyce. Joyce was generous with her crafting talents, and if you knew her, you most likely received one of her handcrafted treasures.
Joyce is survived by her daughter, Johanna Fisher (Erick Salnave); sister, Janet (Mitchell) Ringer; brother, Phil (Penni) Schimke; cousin-in-law, Leonard (Anita) Fisher; nieces and nephews Courtney (Stephen) Doninger, Cara (Patrick) Broderick, Corinne (Greg) Regnier, Calene (Ken) Kieffer, Nathaniel Ringer, Bartholomew Ringer, Carin (Dave) Marney, Allison Steurtze, Sharon Alexander, Heather (Ted) Tamburo, and Hali (Jason) Larson-Blair; and many great-nieces and great-nephews. In addition to her parents and former husband, Joyce is preceded in death by her granddaughter, Charlotte Salnave, and her great-nephew, Lennox Broderick.
A celebration of life service for Joyce will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 28, at Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Church, 5603 Bull Valley Road, McHenry, Illinois 60050.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Joyce’s name to Options & Advocacy of McHenry County, 365 Millennium Drive, Suite A, Crystal Lake, Illinois 60012. Condolences may be sent to the family of Joyce Fisher, P.O. Box 11, Wonder Lake, Illinois 60097.