Obituary: Joyce Stearns Harmon – Portland Press Herald



Joyce Stearns Harmon

BRADENTON, Fla – Joyce Harmon of Bradenton, Fa., Formerly of Falmouth, passed away on December 11, 2021, after a long battle with cancer. She was born September 4, 1935 in Kezar Falls, daughter of Adis M. Stearns and Florence E. Stanley. She grew up in South Hiram and attended Fryeburg Academy until she moved to South Portland in the middle of her freshman year. She graduated from South Portland High School in 1953. In 1957, she married David W. Harmon at Woodfords Congregational Church.

Joyce was a member of the Falmouth Congregational United Church of Christ where she served in many volunteer positions. She was a moderator of the Cumberland Association UCC; President of the State Women’s Association; UCC Board of Directors of the Maine Conference; member, vice-president and president of the UCC National Office for the Church in Society and of the UCC National Nominating Committee. She attended several General Synod meetings and was recognized at the Boston Synod as one of UCC’s 10 Outstanding Lay People.

Joyce joined a group of delegates from the General Synod of St. Louis, who responded to a call from Cesar Chavez to help publicize the plight of grape workers who were being beaten and their homes burned down. They went to Coachella Valley, California, and went to the vineyards with the farm workers. As a result, the conditions began to be made public nationwide. She continued to support the plight of farm workers throughout her life.

Joyce was appointed by Governor Kenneth Curtis as Chairman of the Maine Human Services Council and by Governor Longley as Commissioner and Chairman of the Maine Human Rights Commission. She accepted a position in the Catholic Dioceses of Maine as director of the Center for Accidental Hypothermia and, with funding from the National Agency for Community Action, established programs in twenty-two northern states. She also developed an energy efficiency program in Maine and traveled to the White House to receive an award for her work from President Jimmy Carter.

Joyce subsequently accepted a position as Geriatric Services Coordinator in the Maine Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. She has guided the development of home mental health services for the elderly statewide. After several years, she became the Health Services Coordinator for the Maine Department of Corrections, responsible for developing a continuum of health and mental health services in state prisons and youth facilities.

Joyce was elected to Falmouth City Council and was the first woman to serve as council chair.

Joyce loved travel and visited all 50 states. She loved to read, was a fabulous cook, enjoyed gardening and spending time with her family. Later, she and her husband moved to Florida where they became members of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida. She was an avid quilting enthusiast and belonged to the Manatee Patchworkers Quilt Guild in Bradenton and the Friendship Knot Quilt Guild in Sarasota, Florida. She also maintained the Stanley, Stearns and Harmon genealogies.

She is survived by her son Jeffrey and his wife Lisa (Deschenes) of Auburn, daughter, Bethany of Southaven, Miss .; grandson, Matthew and wife Ashley (Pepin) of Poland, granddaughter, Katherine and fiance Max Goldberg Liu of Brooklyn, NY; sister, Cheryl and husband David Whitten of Port St. Lucie, Florida; and several nieces and nephews.

Joyce was predeceased by her husband, David; parents; sister, Barbara and brothers Hugh and Roger Stearns.

Services will be held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Fla. On Friday, December 31 at 1:30 pm The service will be broadcast live via Zoom, please call the church at 941-953-7044 for the link Zoom. and password.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory to:

National Ministry of Farmers In Memory of

Joyce Harmon

P.O. Box 10645

Raleigh, North Carolina 27605-0645

Golden Book

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