Joyce Ellen Bergstrom passed away into the loving arms of Jesus in the early morning of January 15, 2023 after a brief respiratory illness. She was 78 years old. Joyce left the world as she lived it — with family by her side, listening to gospel music.
Joyce was born on November 26, 1944, in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Carl and Esther Bergstrom, the sixth of their ten children. Like her siblings, Joyce spent her childhood working long days on the family vegetable farm. The Bergstrom family always took off the Lord’s Day to attend morning and evening church services and visit their many aunts, uncles and cousins.
Joyce was very musical and sang along with her dad and siblings while their mom played piano. She routinely sang in church in a family trio or quartet. Her love of music carried throughout her life and one of her recent happiest experiences was a singalong with sisters Norma and Lois. She also stayed active in a church throughout her life especially at the Becker Baptist Church, where friends became her extended family. Weekly evening singspirations at other local country churches were a priority on her calendar.
Joyce walked to a one-room schoolhouse for her first school years before graduating from Osseo High School and then attending beauty school. Shortly after, Joyce married Rod Neslund. She worked as a bookkeeper for Industrial Chemical in Minneapolis until moving to the country near Becker, Minnesota. There she and her husband built a home in the woods and started their family. To Joyce’s eternal delight, she had three children: daughter Sarah in 1976, 17 months later son Jarrod, and in 1979, daughter Maia was born. Joyce was thrilled to finally achieve her lifelong dream of having children. She enjoyed each and every minute of raising them.
Around 1986 Joyce and Rod parted ways. Joyce continued to build a welcoming, nurturing home filled with warm décor, pictures, her nature collections and plants. She had a green thumb that could keep any plant or flower alive and thriving, and a love for nature passed down from her dad. As a kid she kept special treasures like rocks, shells, dried flowers and even birch bark she collected on the family summer road trips to the North Shore of Lake Superior. She was a collector, never passing up the opportunity to search a secondhand store or yard sale for a hidden gem. Joyce’s home in Becker was a place for fun meals with family and friends around the kitchen table, and also an impromptu salon where she gave many haircuts, colors and perms to friends and family. She spent much of her free time adventuring with her kids, to the lake to swim, to Duluth for vacation, on family road trips, and to play along with them sledding, ice skating, playing card and board games, and biking. Her life truly revolved around her children, so the loss of her son Jarrod in 1999 hit her very hard. She never stopped missing Jarrod and grieving his absence.
Joyce spent 10 years as a waitress at the local Lake Café in Big Lake, making lifelong friendships with coworkers, and she finished out her career back at Industrial Chemical in an office role, driving 100 miles a day to the job until she retired in 2005 at the age of 60. She then stepped into her most favorite role, full-time “Mum” to her four grandchildren. She delighted in traveling to visit her grandkids and caring for them whenever she could.
In 2016 Joyce moved to Townsend, Montana, closer to daughter Sarah and other family who helped care for her as she aged. She lived out her last years at Silver Springs Assisted Living Center, where she was a favorite of anyone who met her. As she grew older she spoke her heart and mind without regret, flooding visitors with compliments and loving sentiments. She always knew just what song to sing for the moment or the person. If you knew her, you loved her and she loved you too, “A Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around your Neck.” Joyce became famous for singing this song to anyone she approved of, which means everyone. She also knew how to provoke a little mischief, a feat she could get away with only because she was so sweet and shared her love so widely. Joyce shared that unconditional love with her children and grandchildren throughout her life. Her loving legacy will continue forever. Her laughter, humor, singing, and joyful spirit were contagious to all who had the wonderful privilege of knowing her.
Joyce was preceded in death by her beloved son, Jarrod Neslund; brothers Bill and Carl Bergstrom; sisters Carolyn Sosnoski, Arlene Coggburn, and Sandy Sanchez; and brother-in-law Chuck Hornbacher.
Joyce is lovingly remembered by her daughters, Sarah and Maia Neslund; grandchildren Zoe and Sienna Everett and Jack and Alivia Jolly; sisters Norma Hornbacher, Lois (Lance) Schelvan, and Adele (Jeff Light) Bergstrom; brother Jim (Diane) Bergstrom; sisters-in-law Grace Bergstrom and Julanne Bergstrom; brothers-in-law Don Sosnoski and Joe Sanchez; and many nieces and nephews.
A very special thanks to the caregivers and staff at Silver Springs Assisted Living in Townsend and at Edgewood Memory Care Center in Helena. Thank you to Joyce’s rheumatologist Dr. Ann Corsi in Missoula who saw her routinely since 2016 and helped manage her arthritic pain. A special thanks to her loving village of family, and friends, and to Matt Foth and his family who have assisted and provided care to Joyce throughout these past years in Montana.
If you would like to honor Joyce’s memory, sing a sweet song to a loved one.
Funeral care provided by Anderson Stevenson Wilke Funeral Home. Viewing will be from 1 to 2 p.m. with a funeral service to begin at 2 p.m, on Saturday, February 4th at Watson’s Event Center, 290 Litening Barn Road in Townsend. A reception will follow the service at the event center. The only color Joyce didn’t wear or compliment was black, so in Joyce’s honor, dress casually and wear your bright prints. Please visit www.stevensonwilke.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Joyce.