Woodward, Okla. —
Joyce Adams Curtis, admired choral director and member of the music faculty at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, died suddenly this past Wednesday, July 25, of congestive heart failure at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Born in Mooreland, OK, on August 30, 1950, Joyce was the precocious youngest daughter of Russell and Grace Adams of Sharon, OK. A gifted pianist and singer, she excelled at music from an early age under the decade-long tutelage of her music teacher, Mr. Earnest Sharon. By the time she was a teenager she was directing the local church choir and often played during the services.
She received a Bachelor of Arts in Organ and Music Education from Oklahoma City University in 1972, where she developed her skills on the organ under Wilma Jensen and studied voice under the renowned Florence Birdwell who guided many on to Broadway awards. Joyce felt called to the church, though, and became the first full time choir director at Ponca City United Methodist Church where she directed seven choirs and encouraged Lara Teeter, one of her students, to attend her alma mater and have a career among the white lights of Broadway. But Joyce wasn’t through with academia herself.
In 1975 she entered the Master of Sacred Music program at Southern Methodist University, and while on a tour with the SMU Choir she met her husband-to-be, the Rev. Torrey Curtis, at a stop in Clarksdale, MS. On their second meeting, he proposed, and a year later they were married. They began their married life in Coldwater, Mississippi near Memphis, where their son Christopher was born and where Joyce directed the Methodist Hospital School of Nursing Glee Club and produced two half-hour musical Christmas shows for regional television broadcasts.
After the birth of their son, the trio moved to Oklahoma to be closer to Joyce’s parents, and she joined the music faculty at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, OK where she taught voice and piano. She also starred in productions at the Alva Community Theatre where she twice won the title of Best Actress (though she chafed lightly at the fact that it was difficult for the preacher’s wife to get cast in the sexy leading lady roles).