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Joyce DeannePhillips Essmiller

Joyce Deanne (Phillips) Essmiller, 96, died Aug. 7, 2022, at HaysMed, Hays, Kansas, after a short illness. She was born on February 11, 1926 in Hoisington, Kansas, to Mark Paul and Ida Marie (Willcutt) Phillips. She spent her early years in Hoisington before moving to Great Bend. She graduated from Great Bend High School and married her high school sweetheart, Arnold Essmiller Jr. on January 19, 1944. They celebrated nearly 74 years of marriage before his death on November 21, 2017.

Joyce was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother; his family was his pride and joy, and always came first. She was a wonderful cook who loved hosting big holiday meals and family reunions, traveling anywhere, anytime, doing family genealogy, reading and her bridge bands. She was friendly and outgoing, loved meeting new people and could talk to anyone about almost anything.

She was a homemaker who, when her children were approaching college age, worked as an accountant at Mullin Furniture, was secretary of the Barton County Farm Bureau Board for 10 years, worked at Steadman & Hawk Accountants, then with Midwest Energy until his retirement. Joyce was a founding member of Shamrock Extension Unit, 4-H food leader, member of Business & Professional Women, First Presbyterian Church and past president of the Ladies’ Circle, and had served on the board of Great Bend Girls’ Home. She and Arnold were also members of the pitch club of a couple who dated for nearly 60 years.

She is survived by her daughters, Jan Marie Bolick of Carmel, IN, ArNell Deanne Briel (Jon) of Great Bend and Jadean Louise Takao (Eric) of Kailua, HI; four grandchildren, Brent Arnold Bolick (Amy) of Jacksonville, FL, Wendy Deanne Sundahl (Shane) of Larned, KS, Robin Ann Murphy (Matt) of Fishers, IN, and Hayley Lynne Dicks (Shane) of Great Bend; and eight great-grandchildren, Sophie and Olivia Bolick, Conner Deer, Brady Murphy, Dalton and Parker Dicks, and Slade and Darby Sundahl; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Arnold; one sister, Beverly Brummett; and four brothers, Francis, Wayne, Marion and Maurice Phillips.

Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Thursday, August 11, 2022, at Bryant Funeral Home, with family and friends from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday, August 12, 2022, at First Presbyterian Church, 24th and Washington, Great Bend, with Reverend Kathleen Luke presiding. Interment will follow at Great Bend Cemetery.

Memorials have been designated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Barton County Historical Society in care of Bryant Funeral Home.