Joyce B. Routson, a former bank worker who was an energetic member of Trinity Episcopal Church and several other local organizations, died Feb. 3 from a cardiac arrest. The longtime resident of Towson’s Aigburth neighborhood was 71.
“The best way to describe Joyce is that she was a devoted friend who had a terrific sense of humor and was a lot of fun to be around,” said Louise Izat,a Glen Burnie resident who had been a friend since they were both 6 years old.
“Joyce had many unique qualities and terrific people skills,” said Carol I. Allen, a longtime friend and Stoneleigh resident. “She was a huge asset where ever she went. She always had a big smile on her face and could handle the public and deal with them appropriately.”
The former Joyce Ann Barnes was born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville and Timonium, the daughter of Clarence L. Barnes, owner of C. L. Barnes Plumbing, and Ethel R. Barnes, a bookkeeper and homemaker.
She was married in 1969 to William Routson, a Baltimore County firefighter, and when he was assigned to the Providence Volunteer Fire Co., she was an active member of its Ladies Auxiliary. They later were divorced.
She began working in customer service in 1971 for the old Maryland National Bank, which eventually became Bank of America, and held that position until retiring in 2014, but continued to work part time at the Woodward Farmers’ Insurance Agency in Parkville.
Ms. Routson’s activism began early.
“I think she got that from her father who was very active in the community and he was her role model,” Ms. Izat recalled.
A resident for many years of Towson’s Aigburth neighborhood, Ms. Routson was a member for decades and treasurer of the Aigburth Manor Association of Towson.
“I’ve been living here for 31 years and she was here when I got here,” said Paul Hartman, vice president of the association.
“I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t involved with the association and was its treasurer.She was with us for more than two decades and I always valued her opinions,” he said. “She was so dedicated to the community and always found time to come to meetings and attend zoning meetings.”
One of her contributions was establishing the Santa on the Firetruck program, which brought cheer at holiday time for children who live in the Aigburth neighborhood.
“While she was outgoing, she could be quiet but her opinions always showed us the right way to go. She could analyze things and was always easy to deal with,” Mr. Hartman said. “She retired from the association about four or five years ago, but she had been a big part of it for a very long time.”
During the 1990s, Ms.Routson expanded her activism when she joined Historic Towson.
“I was the executive director when Joyce was on the board. The wonderful thing about Joyce was that you could always rely on her and she shortly became president of the organization. We worked closely, became good friends, and even took many trips together,” Ms. Allen said.
“While she hadn’t been to college, she had a tremendous amount of smarts. She was so smart that she saw issues, cut to the chase, and got on with it,” she said.
Ms. Routson also helped plan Towson’s annual July Fourth parade for several years.
Ms. Allen added with a laugh: “I like to think that I converted Joyce from being a Republican to a Democrat.”
“She was smart and very well-read,” said Kathleen Capcara of Hamilton, lay associate for parish life at Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson, which Ms. Routson began attending after a friend took her to see her two children in the church’s Christmas pagent.
In 2001, she started attending Trinity and quickly became an active participant in the life of the church, and brought her lifelong interest in architecture, gardening and interior design to her work there.
“After she retired, she was just phenomenal and was in my office four or five days a week asking what she could do to help and would do anything that needed to be done,” Ms. Capcara said.
She enjoyed decorating tables for the church’s second Sunday breakfasts, was in charge of the Sunday altar flowers, welcoming newcomers, volunteering one day a week at its Surprise Shop, and overseeing maintenance and planting of its flowerbeds. When it needed it, she took on painting the church’s tool shed.
“Joyce would show up with her gardening stool and start pulling weeds. She would mulch and did all of these things without direction,” Ms. Capcara said. “She was a person who liked being behind the scenes and often worked alone.”
“Joyce found her niche at Trinity because she had talent and skills that she was able to use,” Ms. Izat said.