Drama teacher Joyce Walker devoted her life to students, family

Monday, May 13, 2013 | 6:57 p.m. CDT; updated 7:57 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 13, 2013

COLUMBIA — Joyce Anne Walker, or "Ecee," as friends and family called her, spent her life at Hickman High School, first as a student and then as a drama teacher for more than 30 years. 

"I think, if you cut her, she would probably bleed purple and gold; she considered herself a Kewpie for life," Mrs. Walker's daughter Julie Frink said.   

Joyce Anne Walker of Columbia died Saturday, May 11, 2013. She was 81.

She was born Nov 6, 1931, to William and Helen (March) Edwards of Columbia.

After graduating from Hickman and then MU, Mrs. Walker spent most of her career at her former high school teaching drama, directing plays and coaching competitive speech and drama. 

"She hoped some day that one of her students would win an Academy Award," Frink said. 

She was known for being supportive and encouraging to her drama students. She occasionally visited students who became working actors in New York and Los Angeles.  

Pam Metcalf, the mother of Mrs. Walker's former student Troy Metcalf, praised her as a teacher.

"I think she recognized his passion and love of acting," Pam Metcalf said. "She always encouraged him."

Troy Metcalf of Los Angeles was one of Walker's students who went on to work as an actor. 

"The biggest thing she taught me was to embrace my own uniqueness," he said. "If it wasn't for her, I may not have majored in acting at Missouri State University, gone on to grad school, or even have the career in television that I do now." 

During his senior year, Troy Metcalf advanced to the 1992 National Forensics League national tournament for debate and speech competitions in Fargo, N.D., with the aid of Walker's coaching.

"It was just Joyce and I in a car, and I treasure that time," Troy Metcalf said. "She was one of the most unique individuals I have ever known."

According to Troy Metcalf, Mrs. Walker was popular with the student body during his time at Hickman High School.

"Her persona reached a lot of kids, whether they took her class or not," he said.  

Family was Mrs. Walker's other great passion in life. She was often known simply as "Gran" because of how frequently her seven grandchildren called her that. 

"Family was so important to her," Frink said. "Christmas was her favorite holiday, and she made it very special."

Mrs. Walker was also an avid reader and a "shopaholic," Frink said.

"She could shop all weekend; often, vacations would include shopping," Frink said. 

She is survived by three daughters, Julie Frink and her husband, Stan, Jenny Bray and her husband, Doug, and Jacque Brake and her husband, Troy; 10 grandchildren Jacob and Kelley Frink, Justin and Tara Wright, Amber and Chris Vroman, Katie Frink, Elle Bray and Dakota and Bella Brake; three great-grandchildren Devon Cox, Matthew Frink, and Mason Wright; and many nieces and nephews.

Two sisters, Virginia Vossen and Kay Rutledge; and an infant son, Teddy Walker, died earlier. 

Visitation will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.  A memorial service will follow at 6 p.m. at the funeral home.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Joyce Walker Drama Scholarship at Hickman High School, 1104 N. Providence Road, Columbia, MO 65203.

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