Those who knew Joyce Scobee best, knew of her love and commitment to her family, friends and Hill Grove Baptist Church in Guston.
They knew of her smile and her hugs, said Laura Scobee, one of her four children.
“Mom was always smiling and she had this laugh that was just so wonderful to hear,” Laura said. “She loved seeing people and people loved seeing her. We’d go out to eat and so many people would come up to her. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.”
Laura said her mother’s love for others was obvious, so much so the people her children married quickly went from in-laws to “kids.”
“If they knew Joyce they knew she cared for everyone and would give her last meal to someone if they had needed it,” said Casandra Scobee, who married one of Joyce and Duewy Scobee’s sons, Duewy Wayne.
She remembers a time in the 1980s when a friend of the Scobees had their home damaged by a fire. They opened their house to them and let them stay there. When they moved out and into their own home, Duewy painted much of it for free.
After Duewy died June 17, 2016, of cancer, Joyce embraced her church family even more. An active member who was on the kitchen committee and helped in the nursery, she became active with the church’s Silver Bells Widow Group.
“She enjoyed being with them so much,” Laura said. “They’d go out to dinner or lunch together and mom just loved that. She loved to be around people.”
Still, it was her family of four children, two grandchildren and many others that were deep-rooted in her, Laura said.
Last Wednesday, Joyce Scobee died at Hardin Memorial Hospital, 58 minutes after she was taken off a ventilator. Her family was sitting outside of the hospital by a tree looking at an iPad as she took her last breathe after spending nearly two weeks in the hospital.
The family watched and cried.
She was 75 and died from the coronavirus, becoming the first person in the area to succumb to the virus. A resident of the small Meade County community of Guston, she is one of 104 Kentuckians to die from it.
But she was so much more than a coronavirus statistic.
Her life of helping and loving others in good times and bad is a big part of who Joyce Scobee was.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard say that my mom was a ‘second mom’ to them,” Laura said.
Scobee was admitted March 28 to the hospital after running a low-grade fever that was accompanied by a cough. She also felt fatigued more than usual in the days leading up to going to the hospital. All she seemed to want to eat were strawberry milkshakes from Dairy Queen. So the family gave her want she wanted.
“She just loved them,” Laura said.
It was the shortness of breath, doctors said along with her other health concerns, to particularly be mindful of.
When she started having trouble breathing, an ambulance was called and she was taken to Hardin Memorial. She had contracted double pneumonia.
“That virus attacked her heart, lungs and then her kidneys started failing,” Laura said. “When we knew what was going on, we just knew our mom was a strong, strong woman.”
She tested negative for the flu and positive March 31 for coronavirus. In the days that followed, there were some hints of recovery and also some “big steps back.”
Laura said HMH nurses and doctors “couldn’t have been better.”
“They were so wonderful and we’d hear from a doctor every day,” she said.
Scobee only had mild health issues prior to her hospital stay. She had heart problems nearly two decades earlier and a broken wrist. She was diabetic, but it rarely slowed her down.
After March 17, Laura said her mom stayed home. How she was exposed to the virus is tough to pinpoint, she said. Joyce had been to her doctor’s office a few times in a short period of time in March and also had shopped at Sam’s Club and Kroger.
The virus, however, was hurting her and her decline was relatively quick. She was on a ventilator from March 28 until her death.
Many in her family were able to spend some time with Joyce at the hospital before she passed. Dressed in personal protective equipment, they were able to touch her and say their goodbyes.
“We couldn’t get that close to her or kiss her on the cheek,” Laura said. “We were able to hold her hand and tell her how much we loved her.’’
When Duewy died nearly four years ago, family was with him. The fact their mom would be alone in her final moments on earth seemed unbearable for the family.
Hospital officials let them use an iPad linked with one set up in her hospital room. Some of her favorite church music was playing when she died, providing her family some comfort.
“We just wanted her to know that we loved her and that we would take care of each other and that we’ll be OK,” Laura recalled. “Not being able to be by her side like we were with daddy when she took her last breath was so hard.
“What the hospital did for us was just so important to us,” she added.
Family and friends now are left with memories of how she lived her life. On May 4, she would have turned 76.
“(She) lived up to the title of a pioneer woman,” said Michael Scobee, one of her sons. “I remember her working side by side with my dad in the tobacco and pepper patches on our farm, and while we worked, she would go to the house to prepare lunch then return to finish out the work day with us.
“She served as a taxi service to the neighborhood after ballgames, football or band practice,” he added. “If we didn’t have something, she would get a pattern and make it. She never flew on a plane ... ever! She kept the local roads hot visiting family and friends.”
When family and friends think of Joyce Scobee, it will be for her good-natured and giving personality, her love of sewing and shopping for quilts for herself, and to give to others, her family says.
The family is asking members of the Meade County community to decorate their mailboxes with a green ribbon in honor of her. The funeral for Joyce Scobee is at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and will be streamed to the Hager Funeral Home Facebook page.
“The hard part of the coronavirus is that people aren’t able to grieve with one another,” Laura said. “Sometimes you just need a hug and cry it out and then talk about all of the good times. We’re going to miss that.”