Joyce Winifred Peterkin was born to Alexander Alice Peterkin on August 4, 1926 in St.
Ann, Jamaica and raised in nearby Clarks Town, Trelawney. The youngest of eight children,
Joyce had a very loving relationship with her father and was especially close to her sisters
Lurline and Lucille.
After completing school, Joyce moved to Kingston, where she gave birth to her only child
– a son, Ronald “Bobby” Nathan. They shared a very special bond. Bobby lovingly cared for his
mother until the day she died.
While in Kingston, Joyce worked as a conductress at Jamaica Omnibus Services. There,
she met and fell in love with Fitzroy Johnson, a driver at the same company. They married in
1960 and were together for over 50 years until his death in 2011.
Joyce and her family immigrated to the United States in the 1960s, and moved to
Brooklyn, New York. Finally settling in East Flatbush in 1979, Joyce became a leading light in
the community and was beloved by her neighbors, who treated her like family. Always the
caretaker, it is no surprise that Joyce spent the majority of her career as a Nurses Aid at
Beekman Downtown Hospital in Lower Manhattan until she retired in 1991.
Joyce enjoyed singing, gardening, reciting poetry and sewing, and would often breakout
spontaneously with a poem or song. Her garden was the envy of the block and she generously
shared her bounty from the garden. Another pastime, which arguably could have been her
favorite, was caring for animals throughout her life, having been “Mom” to many a furry friend.
Joyce and Fitzroy found their spiritual family and home as faithful members of the New
Apostolic Church where they worshipped and served for many years. Affectionately known as
“Mama Johnson,” she was the beloved matriarch of the Brooklyn congregation. She was
instrumental in securing the current church building in Brooklyn more than fifteen years ago
after attending the Ridgewood congregation for years.
Mama Johnson loved all of her priests and rectors who served her, and accepted every
message given to her in faith by her ministers with an open heart. No matter what life brought
her, Mama Johnson always professed, "I am blessed!” She had many honorary "sons" in the
church, most notably Priests Ciotta and Ossiala, Evangelist Vassall and her faithful spiritual
guardian, Priest Gleason. Mother Johnson was usually the first one to volunteer to read a poem
or sing one of her favorite songs during the annual Christmas program.
Fondly referred to as JJ, “Peeta,” Mommy, Grandma, Sister J, Aunt Joyce and Mama
Johnson, Joyce will be especially remembered for her sweet smile, witty personality, sense of
humor, kindness and strength. She was a “Queen” and known to wear tiaras at her birthday
celebrations as proof!
Joyce died on August 27, 2019. She was preceded in death by her husband Fitzroy and
her beloved Maltese, “Sugar.” Those left to treasure many memories of her are her beloved son,
grandchildren, daughter-in-law, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, church family, “honorary”
sons and daughters, neighbors, friends and her cat, Daisy.
There are few people we meet in this life who we can truly call wonderful. Some people
are kind. Some are loving. Some will give you the shirt off their back. Some are strong. Some
are resilient. Some have many friends, and some people have an entire community that loves them.
Joyce Johnson was all of the above, and the world is much better for having her in it for
the past 93 years.
We can all smile knowing that we have our own personal angel in heaven – tending to
the animals and singing songs as she waters her plants in Gods yard. Yes, we all know she has
already started a garden.