Joann Williams was a caring mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. She left this world peacefully, in her sleep, on Jan. 21, 2021.
Joann was the loving mother of Lee Keyt (Lauri) of Chester, Tina (Marsell) Bustos of Morattico, and Thad (Darlene) Keyt of Windsor. A proud and loving grandmother of Chelsea Keyt, Christina and Savannah Bustos, Charles (Haley) and William Keyt, and great-grandson, Aubrey. A loving and devoted sister to Sylvia Stradley of Franklin and Betsy Brothers of Suffolk. A loving aunt to many nieces and nephews, but especially Elizabeth Brothers of Suffolk and Katrine Spruill of Como, N.C.
Joann was born on April 2, 1937, in Suffolk, and was the precocious second daughter to Joseph Thaddeus (J.T.) and Nell Whichard Williams. She enjoyed a wonderful childhood growing up on the family farm on the river in Nansemond County, with a large and loving extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.
As a Daddy’s girl, she loved living on the farm and at an early age could drive a tractor, ride a horse, catch a fish, and handle a gun. Not surprisingly, she shot a large point buck at the age of 13, garnering the attention of the local newspaper.
After graduating from Suffolk High School in 1955 and being crowned Peanut Bowl Queen, Joann attended Peace College in Raleigh, N.C., where she majored in art and met her future husband, Don Keyt. After marriage, Joann enjoyed the life of an Air Force pilot’s wife, including the adventure of travel and frequent moves. Eventually, all roads led her back to Suffolk, where she raised their family.
In 2008, Joann moved to Powhatan, to live with her daughter’s family. She loved watching her two granddaughters grow up, and the entire family treasured getting to spend those years with her. Joann’s last big adventure was a move to the Northern Neck in February 2020. She helped design and plan a new house on the Rappahannock River. She loved the people in the Village of Morattico and they loved her right back.
Many words could describe Joann, but kind, generous, encouraging, quick-witted, and feisty describe her best. Throughout her life, Joann enjoyed nature and was fascinated watching wildlife outside her window. She loved visiting her sister Betsy at the Outer Banks where they would paint, rock on the porch, watch the pelicans float by and the dolphins do their dance in the ocean.
Joann loved planting flowers and vegetables and was known for her green thumb. She bought a small packet of zinnia seeds many years ago and harvested Jo Jo’s Zinnia seeds annually to share with family and friends.
Joann was an avid and gifted artist. She painted hundreds of paintings, mostly seascapes, riverscapes, farms with peanut shocks, and a variety of flowers and mushrooms. Throughout her life, she has shared her work with many family and friends all over the world. Many have expressed that her painting will always hold a special place in their heart.
A very special thanks to the staff at VCU Health Tappahannock Hospital for giving her exceptional care.
A service and celebration of Joann’s life will be planned for a safer time in the future. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to White Chapel Food Pantry, 5490 White Chapel Road, Lancaster, VA 22503.
We will see Joann in every bluebird and eagle, every zinnia, and in every soothing sunrise that she paints for us. We will miss her laugh, and will remember what she taught us about taking a moment to enjoy simple and beautiful things. She is wearing her signature teal glasses with her cobalt blue sweater, orange jacket and enjoying all the butter, country ham, and oysters she ever wanted. How lucky are we to have someone that makes saying goodbye so hard?