Joyce D. Zeh
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Joyce Zeh, 83, passed away peacefully on July 13, 2014, at UniHealth Post-Acute Care Center, after a long illness. She was born on July 26, 1930, and raised in Craven County, North Carolina, the only child of Paul and Lola Mae Dixon. After graduating in 1948 from Farm Life High School in Vanceboro, she enrolled in East Carolina University, then East Carolina Teachers' College, and soon met the love of her life, John Zeh, a dashing veteran whose devotion- and dance moves- swept her off her feet. They married June 3, 1950, and she went on to complete her education, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education in 1951, and a Master's Degree in School Administration in 1953. During her teaching career, especially at Greenville Junior High School, she was well-respected by her fellow educators, invited to become a member of Kappa Gamma Delta honorary teaching sorority, and adored by her students and their families. In 2012, one group, her seventh grade class of 1957-1958, honored her with a class reunion. Her former students described her as "a teacher of excellence, discipline, and wisdom," whose enthusiasm, love of learning, and compassion inspired all whose lives she touched. Soon afterward, she also became a mother, first to Freda, adopted in infancy from the Greensboro Children's Home Society, and later to Donovan, also adopted there. Her children remember her as a wonderful mother: beautiful, loving, and a strong moral compass- always open, honest, and fair.
In 1964 she and John relocated to Raleigh, settling in North Hills. Early on, Joyce became involved in the community. She became a member of the Raleigh Fine Art Society, and she and her family joined Hayes Barton United Methodist Church. By 1967 her abiding love of education brought her back to the field in an unexpected way. Seeking only part-time employment as a substitute teacher, her outstanding reputation and presence caused her to be hired as a school supervisor by the Ra- leigh City Schools. Just as the mandates of Brown vs. Board of Education were being enacted in Raleigh in 1971, Joyce and her fellow supervisors from both segregated divisions worked together tirelessly as the school system integrated. Her curriculum and supervision department, comprised of African-American and white educators, became lifelong friends. Later, as the Raleigh and Wake County schools merged in 1977, Joyce became Coordinator of Language Arts. In that capacity, she embraced helping teachers improve student reading and writing skills. In 1982, she was a primary author of Wake County's Classical Studies Magnet Program. During this productive era, Joyce also enjoyed being a youth leader in Hayes-Barton's JOY class, as well as an avid reader, writer, and beach-goer. Joyce retired from Wake County Schools in 1985, but continued consulting for several years. By the 1990s, she turned her leadership skills toward organizing Hayes-Barton's senior ministry, the Grand Age Club. Although her dancing days eventually diminished, she still loved to entertain, often hosting neighborhood sing-alongs, informal gatherings, and bridge games.
Joyce is survived by her husband, John Zeh; her daughter Freda Zeh Rosen and her husband, Carl of Charlotte; and her son Donovan Zeh and devoted partner, Julie Klass of LaGrange, NC. Following a private burial at Historic Oakwood Cemetary, a memorial celebration of Joyce's life will be held at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church on Wednesday, July 16, at 2:30 p.m. The family will receive friends afterward in the church Fellowship Hall.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hayes-Barton UMC Building Fund, The Raleigh Fine Arts Society, The Greensboro Children's Home Society, The
, or the
Arrangements by Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, Raleigh; online condolences to www.bryan-leefuneralhome.com
Bryan-Lee Funeral Home
831 Wake Forest Road Raleigh, NC 27604
Published in The News & Observer on July 15, 2014