Joyce Josephine Burton Smith Trulear, 92, of Center City, a retired public-school teacher, died Saturday, Nov. 23, of Alzheimer’s disease at her home.
For years, Mrs. Trulear taught at Duckrey School in North Philadelphia as a reading and language skills specialist.
Born in 1927, she was the eldest of three children of Douglas Burton Sr. and Eva Lee Powers Burton of Wildwood.
While growing up, Mrs. Trulear played the trumpet and bass drum for the Wildwood High School marching band, and sang with the school’s glee club and the New Jersey All-State Choir. At Asbury A.M.E. Church in Wildwood, she was a featured choir soloist and also played piano for the junior choir.
At the Shore Theatre, Mrs. Trulear won the Wildwood Merchants’ Talent Show for best singer for her rendition of “Stormy Monday.” She also formed a vocal group with her sister Sonia and a friend, Evelyn Frazier, that traveled with her to other Wildwood churches to sing.
She later attended what is now Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
Not long after graduating from college, she married Mitchell Smith and began teaching in public schools in Millville, N.J. Her first marriage ended in divorce, and in 1983 she married Charles F. Trulear IV.
Mrs. Trulear spent most of her teaching career in Philadelphia public schools, and in 1987, she was nominated for an excellence in teaching award.
“She enjoyed teaching,” said Stacey Trulear, a daughter-in-law. “She felt she was making a difference in the lives of her students. She enjoyed being a positive influence for them.”
She was also active in civil rights efforts, and participated in activities at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia.
In addition to music, Mrs. Trulear enjoyed dance, quilting, gardening with her husband, hosting her family for Thanksgiving and Easter dinners, and traveling to France and Spain. A book lover, she read independently and as part of book clubs with friends.
While she didn’t have children of her own, she gained a stepson from her first marriage and two stepchildren, a son and daughter, from her second marriage.
“She loved all of her family,” Stacey Trulear said. “My husband is her stepson, but we didn’t use the term step very often. As far as she was concerned, we were her children and our children were her grandchildren.”
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Trulear is survived by stepsons Calvin Smith and Charles Trulear V; stepdaughter Susan Trulear Hale; four grandchildren; a sister; and a brother.
A celebration of Mrs. Trulear’s life was held on Saturday, Dec. 7.