She was born on January 10, 1936, as the 13th of 13 children in Blue Ridge, Missouri, to Vincle and Grace Cummings. She attended country schools and later Bethany High School.
On April 20, 1952, she married William Eugene Hillyard at the Methodist Church in New Hampton, MO. The couple was blessed with a son and daughter, Jack and Lanita. They spent most of their married life in New Hampton, MO. Eugene passed away on June 3, 1998, leaving a significant void in Joann’s life.
Joann worked at the Department of Mental Health in Albany, MO for 22 years, serving individuals with mental and physical disabilities. She later worked at the Harrison County Health Department for 11 years. Joann held various roles, including youth leader, Sunday School teacher, secretary, and treasurer at the New Hampton Church. She also served as a New Hampton Council Alderwoman and was a member of the Board of Directors at the White Oak Housing and Community Club of New Hampton.
Joann deeply loved her Lord and family. She eagerly awaited their visits and cherished every hug. Her hobbies included gardening, with a particular fondness for flowers, collecting antiques, and frequenting garage sales. Her unwavering dedication to the Lord and her family was evident, always considering her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as God’s blessings.
Joann’s life was anchored in values of honesty, hard work, and integrity. She believed in the salvation of her family through Jesus Christ, often quoting, “what is impossible with man is possible with God.” She sought to deepen her faith through prayer and fasting, holding the belief that “to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.”
Her children, Jack and Lanita, held a special place in her heart. She cherished family gatherings, holidays, and special occasions.
Joann hoped to leave behind a legacy of kindness and love for Jesus Christ and to her loved ones, especially her children.
A Letter from Heaven: When tomorrow starts without me and I’m not here to see, if the sun should rise and your eyes are filled with tears, I wish you wouldn’t cry for me. While thinking of the things we didn’t say, know how much you love me, as I loved you. Each time you think of me, remember I’m right there in your heart, now with Jesus, waiting for you.
In addition to her husband, Joann was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Mary Alice Buntin, Thelma Long, Delores Johnston, Maxine Hendren, Flora Meinecke, and Donna Low Cummings; brothers, William Jr. Cummings, John Wesley Cummings, Bonnie Roe Cummings, R.J. Cummings, and Larry Cummings; and sisters-in-law, Melva Cummings, Dixie Cummings, and Delores Cummings.
Survivors include her son, Jack Lynn (Teressa) Hillyard of Camp Hill, PA; daughter, Lanita Jean (Mervin) Bonham of Lawson, MO; grandchildren, Valri Ellen Findley, Caitlin Hillyard, Brennan, and Ry Hillyard; great-grandchildren, Shannon and Drake Smith; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 4, at Roberson Funeral Home in Bethany, MO. Burial will follow at Miriam Cemetery in Bethany, MO. The family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the funeral home. Donations can be made to Miriam Cemetery in care of Roberson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 46, Bethany, MO 64424.