sister joyce buckler
January 1, 1932 – June 19, 2008
S. Joyce Buckler was born in Loretto, Ky., to William Oscar Buckler and Mary Heistand Buckler on New Year’s Day in 1932. She was the youngest of ten children and the darling of all her brothers and sisters. She was especially close to her sister Susan who was two years older than she. Joyce spent her elementary school years at a public school staffed by the Sisters of Loretto and then attended Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis. While there, she lived at St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf and helped the sisters care for the deaf children in residence. She fell in love with the children and the teachers who taught them. After spending one year at Webster University, Joyce decided to enter the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1950. She was given the name S. Marie Suzanne which her deaf students liked because it sounded so musical! Later she resumed her baptismal name. She made her final profession in 1958.
S. Joyce received a bachelor’s degree in education from Fontbonne College in 1957, a master’s degree in audiology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 1964 and a doctorate in special education from Columbia University in New York in 1977.
S. Joyce was an educator to her fingertips. Her mother was a teacher; therefore, Joyce was surrounded by and appreciated the gift of education. She often described herself as “A little girl from Marion County, in Loretto, Kentucky,” who had received a particular honor, award or the gift of world travel.
S. Joyce taught at St. Leo School in North St. Louis in 1953 and then began her service at St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf which spanned six decades. She taught for 17 years beginning in 1954, served as an administrator for 19 years during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and coordinated alumni relations and served as an interim principal earlier this decade. In 1987, she was recognized as a St. Louis Woman of Achievement in the area of special education.
While caring for her mother for a few years in Louisville during the early 1980’s, S. Joyce helped found and was executive director of the Option Schools Organization, a consortium of private oral schools for the deaf. She also served as acting director of the Louisville Oral School for the Deaf in 1983.
An excellent language teacher, she rejoiced in the accomplishments of all the alumni of St. Joseph’s. She encouraged them to develop their potential and to use all of their talents. S. Joyce was tender with people in difficult time and was a wonderful support to all the parents who came to St. Joseph’s seeking education for their children; she was encouraging, challenging, and caring to all the staff members who carried on the ministry to the hearing-impaired.
S. Joyce was a faithful friend to SJI parents, students, alumni, staff members, professional colleagues, and many Sisters of St. Joseph. She was especially devoted to her family and kept in close contact with her sisters, sister-in-law, and her many nieces and nephews and their families. She rejoiced in their joys and shared their sorrows.
In 2005 when St. Joseph Institute honored S. Joyce for her 50+ years of service to the Institute, her only request was that there be a dance after the dinner to make it a truly joyful celebration. Now we pray that she is dancing in heaven with all her loved ones who were there to meet her. What a gift S. Joyce was to the many who knew her and loved her!
By S. Pat Flavin, S. Anne E. Kelly and S. Ann Gerard Siebert