Joyce Mace

With the passing of our Aunt Joyce Mace, our family has been contacted by so many people who knew and loved her.  It is a testament to the kind of person Aunt Joyce was, the impact she had on everyone she met, and the way she lived her life.  It is impossible to speak personally at length with so many friends.  So, with a mixture of pride and sadness, and deep gratitude, I write this message on behalf of our family.

We are all filled with both tremendous grief and great joy at the passing of our beloved Aunt Joyce Mace.  Grief, because we will no longer have the joy of her presence or get to hear her wonderful laugh again.  Joy, because we know that she has passed on into the arms of the Lord and has joined her beloved husband Lee Mace and all our family and friends who preceded her into heaven. 

It is said that there is nothing more sad or glorious than generations changing hands.  While to our family, she will always be simply Aunt Joyce, we can’t help but feel that, with her passing, we bear witness to the closing of an era, the end of an age.  It feels like the early days of the Lake of the Ozarks are drawing to a close.  All the early pioneers in the tourism industry, all those who, after watching their fertile bottom lands covered by the waters of the Lake of the Ozarks, through ingenuity and hard work, took what was left and transformed it into the beautiful, vibrant communities that we enjoy today; they are all gone now.  We live in a world built by our ancestors and our family feels a profound sense of gratitude for the wonderful communities in which we live, the communities they built for us.  

Aunt Joyce started life as a child of the great depression, growing up on a hardscrabble Ozark farm. She remembered how hard life was in these isolated hills before the lake was built.  Together with her husband, Lee Mace, Aunt Joyce started the Ozark Opry in 1953 and they operated it for 53 years.  Through their premiere nightly country music show here at the lake, they welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Lake of the Ozarks over the decades.  They operated Indian Burial Cave from 1960 to 1987, were some of the early founders of Central Bank of Lake of the Ozarks and established many other businesses and real estate developments around the lake.  In 2017, at the age of 92, Aunt Joyce was very happy and honored to be asked to be the Grand Marshall for the 67th annual Dogwood Parade.  

The Ozark Opry maintained a reputation for family-centered entertainment and Lee and Joyce set the standard for welcoming visitors to our beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.  From the deep forested hills to the beautiful new lakeside subdivisions, from the rolling farm fields to the glittering waters of the lake, Joyce was very proud of this area, and she loved all the people she met throughout her long life.  Her life was a shining example of the values and ethics of our ancestors, the hill people that originally settled these Ozarks.  We will all miss her as we try to live up to the example Joyce set for us in her dignity, honesty, friendliness and honor. 

As the sun sets on the first century of the Lake of the Ozarks, this old earth keeps turning and the world moves on.  The Ozark Opry is closed now.  The music is no more.  But sometimes, some of us still hear mountain music drifting across the hills and the sound of Aunt Joyce’s sweet laughter on the wind. 

She will always be missed. 

We thank you all for your condolences.

This article originally appeared on Lake Sun Leader: Joyce Mace, 95