Obituary for Joyce G. Beilke

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Joyce Anderson Beilke lived an exceptional life. Joyce was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin on December 19th, 1925 the beloved child of Lillian and Otto “Andy” Anderson.
Joyce was a child singing star whose musical talents were discovered and nurtured by her father. From as young as Joyce could remember, she would sing along with her guitar/banjo playing Dad. At the age of 4, Joyce began singing with her dad’s band, “Andy Anderson and his Merry Makers.” Joyce was a regular on La Crosse’s “Kiddy Hour” with Uncle Art. Joyce became a local celebrity known as “Baby Joyce” and was a frequent performer with her own show on La Crosse’s WKBH radio. Joyce’s first “big break” occurred when a talent agent came to town and was auditioning local performers to appear for a screen test in Hollywood. Joyce was enthusiastically chosen. But, instead of going to Hollywood, Joyce was recruited by a Minnesota talent agency, Ed Sherick, and became the advertising voice/jingle singer for “The Dwarfy Songbird” on KSTP radio in St. Paul. She became a radio show regular and at the age of 6, Joyce was the sole supporter of her family and lived for many years in the St. Paul area along with her mother while her father ran “Anderson’s Sporting and Tire Goods” in La Crosse. For her high school days, Joyce returned to the La Crosse area attending Logan High School where she graduated in 1943. Along with her two best friends, Avis Snyder Peterson and Lorrain Pohlman Tompkins, they entertained troops during WW2 at Camp McCoy in a trio known as “Three Dots and a Dash” (Morse code “V” for victory). Joyce was one of the premiere water skiers in the area and was a model for the Kiekhaefer Corporation (now known as Mercury Motors). Joyce attended La Crosse Teachers College studying Theatre/English while continuing to pursue her singing career performing with bands in La Crosse, Winona, Milwaukee and the Twin Cities where she met her husband—band leader and drummer Mel Beilke. Joyce was performing at the Red Feather in Minneapolis and in walked this handsome, hip zoot-suiter. She thought he was cute and the rest, as they say, is history. Together they performed in the Twin Cities at the Red Feather, The Dykeman Hotel, The Radisson and the Lowry Hotel which was broadcast live over NBC radio. The couple was married in 1947. Joyce enjoyed a long career singing at such local favorite establishments as The Oaks (with the Hal Leonard Band in Winona, MN), Mai Tai (with pianist Roger Skoug), The Maple Grove Country Club (with the Buddy Frank Band), The Loading Dock (along with house band, River City Jazz under the direction of Dick Chaffee), and many for hire gigs with Bill Baker, Leo Simmer, Larry Zieman, Kenny Bye, Vicki Bigley, Roy Harlow, John Alexander and Greg Balfany. One of the highlights of Joyce’s career occurred in 1980 when she sang the “Star Spangled Banner” for Ronald Reagan at the Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium when he was on the campaign trail. In 1985, La Crescent Applefest, crowned Joyce as their premiere singer-entertainer, “Apple Annie.” Joyce made many appearances at the St. Paul Winter Carnival along with their Klondike Kates as well as the Oktoberfest and La Crescent parades. Joyce also worked as a Cosmetics Consultant for Estee Lauder at Dayton’s in Valley View Mall, British Manor and Wild & Wooly downtown La Crosse and, most recently, in cosmetics and fragrance at Kohls working well into her 80’s!
Joyce and Mel raised two children, Brooksy and Barry, in the home they built in Onalaska (Medary) on Holiday Heights in 1956. Joyce and Mel enjoyed entertaining family and friends in their beautiful home which was always decorated to reflect the change of seasons and holidays. Joyce enjoyed watching the seasons change via the birds and plentiful wildlife that appeared outside the picture windows in her backyard. The center of Joyce’s world was her two children and, though she always claimed she only wanted to raise cocker spaniels, she was an amazing mom and doting Grandmother. Joyce was a “people person” and was loaded with character and personality. She was a captivating woman with a creative, dramatic, flamboyant flare that accompanied her on and off stage. Joyce was able to “tell it like it is” way before it was in style. She lived, laughed and loved in abundance. She will be remembered and treasured by all who knew her.
Joyce passed away peacefully at Onalaska Care Center on Monday, June 18th, 2018 surrounded by family after a long battle with dementia. To God be the Glory.
Deepest gratitude to the incredible staff at Onalaska Care Center for their superior care administered with compassion, empathy, professionalism, humor and love (Kenzie, Leslie, Jenny, Teri Jo, Meredith, Siera, Christina, Dena, CJ, April, Katelyn, Sandy, Kia, Tina, Cassie, Jared, Shelby, Cali, Kim, Kelsie, Hannah, Brian, Katie, Monty and Brenda).
Many thanks for the high level of daily care that was provided in Joyce’s home residence by the employees of Caring Hearts, most notably Rhonda Olsen.
Special acknowledgement to family members Barry Beilke-son and Miranda Shepardson –daughter-in-law who provided Joyce with the extra daily care required in order for Joyce to remain living in her own beloved home for as absolutely long as possible.
Joyce is preceded in death by Mother-Lillian (Christopher) Anderson, Father-Otto “Andy” Anderson, husband-Melvin Beilke; sister-Sally (Anderson) Grimslid; nephew-Kent Grimslid.
She is survived by sister-Sharon (Ed) Lietzow; a half-sister Leatrice Joy Crawford; daughter Brooksy (Jim) Beilke-Skoug; son-Barry Beilke (Miranda Shepardson); grandchildren-Brandon (Kaytlyn Beilke; Ciana Beilke; Haley Shepardson; JannaLynne Beilke-Skoug and Logan Beilke-Skoug.
A Celebration of Life honoring Joyce will be held at the St. Andrew Square at Boot Hill (1501 St. Andrew Street, La Crosse) on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 with visitation at 4:30, Meditation conducted by Pastor Scott Skogen at 5:30, followed by Social Hour with refreshments until 7:30 p.m.
The Dickinson Family Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
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