Everybody Has a Story

Joyce Cooper

    Born in Lima, Ohio, Joyce couldn't wait to move south. Sick of the cold weather and gray skies, she got her chance 25 years ago when she married her first husband, whose mother lived in Hilton Head. The idea of a warm climate and the beach thrilled her, and they married and moved south. She started a job with Community Services Management, a company that managed water and sewer services for the island, and they settled in. Despite their promising beginning, the marriage did not last. But by then, Joyce was addicted to the area, and decided to stay. She picked herself up and moved on, eventually finding her way six years ago to Paragon Construction Company, where she has remained ever since. She is the Office Manager, and judging by the calls she received during our interview (she had to answer the phones), much loved by those who know and work with her. Each "Good afternoon, Paragon Construction, this is Joyce, how may I help you?" was followed by a smile and a laugh, and then a "Sure, I'll be happy to". This is a woman who likes what she does, and is happy with where she is in her life.
    Happily dating her "significant other" for the past eleven years, Joyce has settled in nicely with her surroundings. She and Mark met through mutual friends, and have been inseparable ever since. He's in the construction industry, and she works for a high-end custom homebuilder (perfect fit). She's the proud mom of three dogs, Bud, Barley and Zeus-all mixed breed sweeties that have captured her heart and her home. Her many friends tell her when they die they want to come back as one her dogs. She is known for being a loyal friend, and for her love of shoes. Mark got her her six pairs (yes, six pairs) for Christmas. She likes to say, if you have an outfit, I've got a pair of shoes to go with it, probably two pairs!"
    And speaking of friends, Joyce is one of those woman you know has lots of friends. She just exudes fun and laughter. She loves spending time with friends on the May River Sandbar, and although she does not own a boat, she is a frequent guest of her friends who do have boats-partly because she packs a mean cooler. Whatever you could want, she's packed it, from Mimosas to chips and salsa-she's your gal. Sounds like the perfect boat guest to me. She's of the belief that there are only two seasons-"boating season" and "waitin' on boating season".
    During "waitin' on boating season," Joyce can be found in her living room, ignoring the exercise equipment found there, trying to wrestle control of the remote from Mark. As always seems the way, opposites attract. Mark prefers channels above 42 (since he hates commercials), while Joyce prefers ABC, NBC and CBS. What ensues each evening after dinner is the remote ballet-Joyce flipping to her channel, Mark switching to his, and so on. When asked what you'd find in her living room, she laughed and replied, "various pieces of workout equipment." This includes a large workout ball Mark blew up for her but has not been used, yet still sits prominently in the living room. She's hoping just the presence of it will cause her to lose weight. It seems to be working, since she's already dropped two pants sizes in the last few months. Now there's an exercise plan you can actually do!
    I asked her what's the one thing she would change about herself, and her answer was one we can all relate to: learn to say no. But I get the feeling Joyce is not one of those people who could ever do that-she loves helping her friends (she actually planned and did the food for two of her friend's weddings); despite sometimes wishing she could duck tape her mouth shut. Her experiences with catering have led her to hang around married people (no receptions to plan), but something tells me she'd do it again in a heartbeat if asked.
    Her one dream left to fulfill is to travel. A visit to San Francisco gave her the travel bug; and she one day hopes to visit Alaska-she had a friend that went there for two weeks and helped build a cabin. And while she says she couldn't build a house to save her life, she'd gladly read the plans and hand the tools-her true talent, as she puts it, is in "supervising!" After Alaska, she'd love to travel the United States and Canada, visiting Texas and Maine, and seeing the country she loves.
    Until then, you'll just have to wait for boating season and catch her on the sandbar-she'll be the one with the big cooler handing out Mimosas, chips and a smile to people walking by. And making more friends by the minute.

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