Joyce Catherine Purvis, 76, of Vilonia, surrounded by her family, died Sept. 25, 2010, at a Little Rock hospital after a brief battle with cancer.

Born in Little Rock on Nov. 22, 1933 to the late Jay Dee and Lenora Handwork, she was also preceded in death by a son, Christopher Edward Purvis. 

She was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway. Through her firm beliefs and by way of her constant example, she imparted to her children a deep and rejuvenating love of nature, as well as the priceless value of education, community involvement and a deeply rooted sense of family.

A retired educator, Mrs. Purvis taught more than 30 years, during which she was head of the science departments at McClellan High School in Little Rock and at Sylvan Hills High School in North Little Rock. She also taught Marine Biology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Although she wasn’t a politician, she regularly attended Vilonia City Council meetings and voiced her opinion concerning local affairs. A member of the Native Plant Society, she was a skilled gardener who spent considerable time tending to her flowers, garden and chickens. She loved the company of her 14-year-old Yorkie named Rosie. She enjoyed traveling, and with her husband, Jim, traveled frequently with Away We Go Tours.

Mrs. Purvis graduated from Little Rock High School, Henderson State Teachers College, Arkansas State Teachers College and the University of Southern Mississippi. She was a member of the Arkansas Retired Teachers and the Faulkner County Retired Teachers. In her younger years, she taught swimming through a Red Cross water safety program and was a member of the swimming team at the Little Rock Boys Club. She served as director of a camp for underprivileged girls at Joe T. Robinson and as director of the Lamar Porterfield playground in Little Rock. 

She leaves behind a host of friends and close knit family, including her husband, Jim of Vilonia; son, James Edward Jr. of Vilonia; daughters, Catherine Anne "Mitzi" King and husband, Brad of Maumelle and Margaret Darlene "Sissy" Smith and husband, James of Brandon, Miss.; granddaughter, Michelle King of Maumelle; and grandson, John King and wife, Jacqueline, of Maumelle.

Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, followed by the funeral service at 11 at Little Rock Funeral Home, 8801 Knoedl Ct. (NW corner I-630 and Barrow Rd.), Little Rock. 

Burial will follow at Vilonia Cemetery on Cemetery Road in Vilonia.

Arrangements by Little Rock Funeral Home, (501)224-2200.

Mrs. Purvis’ online guestbook may be signed at