RALPH, Joyce Palmer January 12, 1935 – April 14, 2021 Joyce was the beloved daughter of the Reverend Leon and Lala Palmer. She was raised in Birmingham, AL and maintained deep ties to the south for her entire life.
Her parents were pioneers in the field of formalized Sunday School curriculum within the Episcopal church. Joyce graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in history. She was a consummate, lifelong teacher. Her career included teaching elementary school in California and in Arlington, MA. She later taught for over twenty years in adult education at Project S.C.A.L.E. in Somerville, where she especially enjoyed working with deaf students who were earning their GED diplomas. Joyce was a lover of words and language. She found and shared joy in the beauty and music of the origin of words. Throughout their fifty-five year marriage, Joyce was a devoted and loving wife to the Reverend S. Lester Ralph, former Mayor of Somerville and priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Somerville. She was an unwavering, attentive, and effective partner throughout Lester’s eight years as Mayor and through his other political journeys. She was dedicated to the church congregation and savored her role as a minister’s wife. Joyce was active in prison ministry, maintaining a long fellowship of faith and hope with those who were incarcerated. She was an avid supporter of gun control measures. Joyce devoted herself to corresponding with those who were sick, suffering or grieving in several area congregations, including the First Baptist Church in Reading. She left this world as much a gracious and beautiful lady as she lived her life. She was a faithful child of God. Joyce leaves behind her three children, Sarah Ralph of North Reading, Thomas Ralph of North Andover, and Jennifer West of Shelburne Falls. Joyce was a loving guide and grandmother to her seven grandchildren. She also leaves behind her beloved sister Gladys Martin of Palm Desert, CA. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private Funeral will be held on April 26th at 11:00am. Friends and extended family are invited to watch the live stream at https://www.GoodShepherdReading.org Donations in her name may be mailed to “Prison Fellowship, PO Box 1550, Merrifield, VA 22116-1550.”