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Joyce Holt McDowell

July 27, 1938 - November 7, 2019

Burial Date November 7, 2019

Obituary Viewed 5096 times

Joyce Holt McDowell, 81, died November 7 at her home in Brookneal, Virginia after a five and a half year battle with metastatic lung cancer. Born in Brookneal on July 27, 1938, she was the daughter of Manlie Thomas Holt and Ann Elizabeth “Bessie” Midkiff Holt.

Joyce is survived by her husband of 58 years Charles Ross McDowell III, her daughter Mary Dagen McDowell and husband Jonas Ferris of New York, and her son Landon Oakes McDowell and his wife Sara Thomas McDowell of Scottsville, Va., and her three granddaughters, Elizabeth Acree McDowell, Phoebe Midkiff McDowell and Beatrix Holt McDowell.

Joyce graduated in 1959 from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., with a degree in economics. She moved to Boston after college and worked in the advertising department of W.R. Grace in Cambridge, Mass. Joyce returned to her hometown of Brookneal in the early 1960s and married her childhood sweetheart Dowell. During the first years of their marriage, she worked as an insurance agent for CI Anderson Insurance and taught elementary school at William Campbell Elementary. While juggling two children, she then joined her husband in the family business, L.W. Roark & Co. Wholesale, working as the office manager and bookkeeper. She and her husband co-owned the business until their retirement in 1999.

She was an active member of the Brookneal United Methodist Church serving in many capacities. She found great joy and took great pride in providing flowers for the services, picked straight from her beautiful garden, and decorating for church functions.

Joyce was passionate about the things she loved: her family, her friends, her church and her community. She also loved tennis, gardening, historical preservation and restoration. Joyce served on the Board of Trustees of the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation for 11 years and loved volunteering at Red Hill functions. She was also a member of the Staunton River Historical Society, Campbell County Historical Society, Charlotte County APVA and Preservation Virginia.

In the 1980s, Joyce served on the original committee that organized an adult literacy program for Campbell County through the library system. She worked as a tutor and served on the advisory board of that program for many years. And on election day for four decades, you could always find Joyce working outside the Brookneal Precinct from the time the polls opened until they closed, advocating for Republican candidates.

In addition to her parents, Joyce was preceded in death by her sister Justine Holt Manahan and her brother Eugene Gordon Holt.

A funeral service will be conducted at 2 p.m. Saturday, November 9, 2019 at Brookneal Baptist Church by the Rev. Willie Guill and the Rev. Alan Murphy.

The family will receive friends following the service in the church fellowship hall.

For those wishing to make a memorial contribution, please consider making a donation to the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation at