Joyce Jones Littlepage Keck, 97, of Cotulla, died on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. She was born on April 23, 1923 in Austin to James Espy and Lila Belle Jones Littlepage.
She was preceded in death by her parents, stepfather John Hill, husband Ray Marvin Keck, Jr., son James Randal Keck, father James Espy Littlepage, beloved stepfather John Hill, brother John Espy Littlepage and granddaughter Lacey Keck.
She is survived by her sons Ray Marvin Keck III (Patricia) of Fort Worth, John Harrison Keck (Cecilia) of Laredo and grandchildren Teresa Cigarroa Keck of Houston, Joyce Keck Rafati and husband Danny of Fort Worth, John Harrison Keck Jr. of Denver, Colorado, Katherine Randal Keck O’Relley and husband Michael of Denver, Colorado, James Andrew Keck (Courtnay) of San Antonio and great-grandchildren Adam Salah Rafati, Laila Patricia Rafati, Olivia Grace Keck, Henry Andrew Keck, Thomas Edward O’Relley and Cecilia Annette O’Relley.
Joyce was born in Austin where she attended primary school. Her grandfather James Newell Littlepage served as the last City Marshall and the first Chief of Police of the City of Austin. He died in the line of duty in October of 1928 in the course of apprehending a fleeing murder suspect. Joyce often recalled her visit to her grandfather’s hospital bedside as a young girl where Chief Littlepage was taken, mortally wounded. Later, when her family moved to Houston, she attended Albert Sidney Johnston High School. There she learned to play the violin and participated in the school orchestra. In her first year of high school, she discovered an interest in journalism. In 1938, her family moved to Cotulla where she enrolled as a junior in high school and met her future husband Ray Keck. After remaining a year in Cotulla, her family moved again, relocating to the Rio Grande Valley in the community of San Benito. There she graduated from San Benito High School in 1940 receiving the Most Beautiful Girl award at graduation, as well as earning scholastic recognition and membership in the National Honor Society.
After high school, Joyce enrolled at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio and later attended The University of Texas where she pledged the Chi Omega Sorority.
Joyce also enrolled and graduated in the American Red Cross for Nurses Aides while at The University of Texas.
On September 18, 1943, in Tyler, Joyce married Ray M. Keck Jr. of Cotulla, who was enlisted in the U.S. Army. Ray served in the European Theater during World War II and upon returning home, they lived in Austin until Ray completed his studies at the University of Texas.
After a short period of employment at Alamo National Bank in San Antonio, Ray and Joyce moved to live in Cotulla where Ray was employed as an officer at Stockmens National Bank.
Joyce became very involved in the Cotulla Methodist Church, the Cotulla Garden Club, and the La Salle County Public Library. She served for many years as a Library Board Member. During her term as Library Board Chairman, Joyce spearheaded the library’s expansion with Cotulla Rancher/Benefactor A.B. Alexander. Alexander’s gift made possible the library’s relocation in 1974 to a large corner property adjacent to the La Salle County Court House. The Alexander Memorial Library continues today as the primary literary resource center for the City of Cotulla and La Salle County.
In 1967, Joyce and Ray moved to Laredo where Joyce continued her active participation in genealogical and historical research.
Joyce was a lifelong genealogist and an active member since 1973, of the Daughters of the American Revolution, joining the Lucy Meriweather Chapter in Laredo. She established thirteen direct ancestral lines to Revolutionary War soldiers and held many officer positions with the DAR Laredo chapter.
In 1976, she and fellow member of the DAR, Dr. Ruby Lowry, attended the state and national conventions in Dallas and in Washington, D.C.
In 2002, Joyce was involved as a founding member of the Villa de San Agustin de Laredo chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. With her experience as a Member-at-Large of the DRT since 1986, she actively volunteered her skills for the benefit of prospects and members in need of ancestral research and guidance.
She was a life member of the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., in addition to the DAR Museum and the Seimes Microfilm Technology Center at DAR headquarters.
In addition to her love of books and genealogical research, Joyce was an avid collector of antiques. Using her knowledge and experience, she started The Blue Gate Antiques in 1981 dedicating her time to managing the retail store which continued in operation for over 15 years in Laredo.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations in her memory to the Alexander Memorial Library, the Cotulla United Methodist Church, or the Canseco School of Nursing at Texas A&M International University in Laredo.
Graveside services were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 9 at the Cotulla City Cemetery.
Pallbearers included John Harrison Keck Jr., Andrew Keck, Michael O’Relley, Danny Rafati, Frank Churchill Jr., Johnny Churchill, John Adams Jr., and Jesus Estrada.
Honorary Pallbearers were Richard Lee Dobie, III and William L. Cotulla.
Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Peters Funeral Home, Cotulla.