JOYCE ANN (WALSH) BURGETT
September 11, 1946 – October 14, 2023
Born at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, Joyce Ann (JA to close friends and family) was the youngest of the three daughters of Leo Bailey Walsh and Benjie Belle (Stone) Walsh. JA attended Lily B. Clayton Elementary, McLean Junior High, and graduated from R.L. Paschal High School. Like her older sisters, she also attended Texas Christian University.
Although classmates in the 1964 graduating class at Paschal, Joyce Ann and her future husband, Tom Burgett, first met some three years later. A blind date was arranged by a mutual friend. Joyce Ann and Tom were wed on March 23, 1968, at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth and happily celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Ironically, all three of the Walsh daughters were married in the year 1968, each choosing to wear the same wedding gown as their sisters. As the youngest, JA took great pleasure in reminding her older sisters that she was the first to take that stroll down the wedding aisle!
After their marriage, JA briefly joined Tom in Killeen, Texas, as he completed the remainder of his US Army tour of duty at Fort Hood. After his discharge in July of 1968, Joyce Ann and Tom returned to Fort Worth where JA worked at Haltom’s Jewelers. She also held down the household duties as Tom completed his college degree in accounting at the University of Texas at Arlington.
Joyce Ann grew up in the family home that her father built in the early 50’s in the Berkley Addition of Fort Worth. Affectionately referred to as the “Ward Parkway house,” JA had many fond memories of her childhood growing up there, surrounded by a loving family and many close neighborhood friends. She was absolutely over the moon with joy and excitement in 1973 when she and Tom had the opportunity to purchase that house and go “home” again. That excitement only grew in April of 1975 when she gave birth to their first son, Barry, at the same Harris Hospital where JA made her initial appearance some 29 years earlier.
Understandably, it was an emotional time for JA just six months after the birth of her first child when she was confronted with the prospect of a move from her beloved home and away from the comfort of family and friends. Tom had an outstanding career opportunity to become an owner and the chief executive officer of a commercial laundry firm in Denver, Colorado. Displaying the resolve and determination that was a hallmark of her entire life, JA just buckled down and created a new life, new interests and, most importantly, a new circle of friends in the Mile High City to add to and supplement her Fort Worth friendships. For many years Joyce Ann traveled the country on annual retreats with over a dozen childhood friends - many of those friendships dating back to elementary school.
Joyce Ann’s second son, Ben, was delivered at Rose Hospital in Denver, Colorado on January 10th, 1980. His arrival was significant in many ways. He was a joy to his parents and a lovable baby brother and playmate to Barry. Shortly after his birth, Ben developed breathing difficulties due to hyaline membrane disease and spent twenty-one days in Rose Hospital. Ben made a complete recovery but that experience and the interruption of JA’s ability to nurse her child adequately due to his hospitalization, subsequently led to her interest in the creation of and funding for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Colorado. Through her leadership role with the Junior League of Denver, the support of the Mile High Transplant Bank, and the tireless effort and advice of Dr. Marianne Neifert, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Colorado was funded and began operation in 1984. In May of 2019 Joyce Ann was honored and recognized as a founding member of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Colorado at the ribbon cutting for their new facility. JA was a sustaining member of the Junior League of Denver and was awarded the “Sustainer of the Year” designation in 1989-90. She credited her many years of hard work and involvement with the Junior League for her personal growth and the development of valuable leadership skills. She greatly treasured the many friendships created through that involvement and maintained them throughout the years.
Joyce Ann and her dogs! It is impossible to think of one without the other. Her love for dogs developed early in life when, as a youngster, she fell in love with the cocker spaniel that her father owned and trained. Her first very own dog was a stray, shaggy mutt that JA found abandoned during a baseball game at Trinity Field in Fort Worth. Insisting that she be allowed to take her home, Gretchen was named, adopted, and adored for the rest of her long, doggy life. Tom liked to joke that his dowry when marrying Joyce Ann was Gretchen. JA’s first foray into training and showing dogs began in Fort Worth with Gus, a gentle English Springer Spaniel that she trained in agility and obedience. She took great pleasure showing Gus in the obedience ring. As the boys got older and less dependent on their mother, JA became more involved in the dog world. In the early nineties, she saw her first Bearded Collie at an American Kennel Club dog show, and it was love at first sight. She adored the breed and was determined to own the very best Beardie she could find. Baxter arrived soon after and it was a life changing event for Joyce Ann. Baxter proved to be a true champion, winning multiple “best of breed” and “best in group” ribbons as well as numerous “best in show” awards throughout the US and Canada. She worked hard training Baxter and studying the intricacies of the breed. The pinnacle was reached in 1997 when Baxter received an Award of Merit as “best in breed” and “best in herding group” at the Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. JA was proud to have Baxter and many of her other dogs professionally shown over the years by her close friend, Kim Raleigh.
Joyce Ann formed Winberlee Kennels with the advice and assistance of her close friend and mentor, Ian Copus. With the success of Baxter in the show ring, coupled with meticulous adherence to breeding standards, Joyce Ann and Ian went on to breed and co-own some of the top performing Beardies in the country. Joyce Ann loved the excitement and the competition of the show ring but valued just as much the many friends and acquaintances she made along the way. She maintained close ties with countless fellow dog show enthusiasts across the US and Canada.
In addition to her family, her dogs and her commitment to community service, another of JA’s passions was her needlepoint. With one or more of her beloved Beardies at her feet, she would sit for hours at a time meticulously working on beautiful canvases that she would gift to family members and close friends. Her needlepoint Christmas stockings are truly spectacular works of art beloved by those who were fortunate enough to receive them.
Joyce Ann had many proud accomplishments in life, but she reserved her greatest pride for her sons, Barry and Ben. As with most parents, her patience with them would waiver on occasion, but her love never faltered. She was so proud of the way in which they expressed their individual talents and unique personalities as they matured into responsible, kind and loving adults. She raised two sons, and then, in 2006, her granddaughter, Baylyn, was born and JA could not have been happier. She viewed her sons as gifts from God, but her granddaughter was truly God’s blessing to her.
Joyce Ann was preceded in death by her parents and her older sister Letty Lou Pittman. She is survived by her husband, Tom Burgett, her son Barry Burgett and wife Celine, her son Ben Burgett and partner Jennifer Herren, her sister Mary Henderson and husband Jim Henderson, her granddaughter Baylyn Burgett, her step-granddaughter Delilah Herren, extended family members Patsy Martinez and her son, Robert Martinez, as well as numerous nephews, nieces and cousins. Her passing is deeply felt and greatly mourned by her close friends -Kelle Birdsong Whitfill and Trish Millice - both of whom she loved as sisters. Joyce Ann is greatly missed by her beloved Beardie, Emma, who brought joy, love and “sweet kisses” to her always.
In accordance with Joyce Ann’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. A Celebration of Life will be arranged by the family at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please feel free to contribute in Joyce Ann’s memory to The Mothers’ Milk Bank of
Colorado (milkbankcolorado.org), The Humane Society of the South Platte Valley (hsspv.org), or the charity of your choice.