Joyce Mary Joyce Finch, age 83, died early Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at her home in Greenville, Michigan. Joyce was born November 1, 1936 in Chicago, the daughter of Herman and Inez (Whedon) Poggenpohl. On May 9, 1959 in Grand Rapids, she married her dancing partner, Edward Allen Finch. Joyce was employed at Michigan Bell Telephone, Lippert’s (in the fabric section), and Greenville Furniture over the years, and she and Ed ran Wayside Gardens for 20 years.
Joyce was one of the first four AlphaNet Coordinators and retired in 2008 after a long and successful second career with AlphaNet. When Joyce was diagnosed with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency she was given the name of two other Michigan Alphas; one of those was Mary Pierce. Initially starting as a volunteer and working to help find a cure, she became a full-time Coordinator in 1997. Prior to joining AlphaNet, Joyce owned and operated Wayside Gardens, a garden center, a job that meant working long hours seven days a week. She brought that same energy, love of people and skill set to her work as a Coordinator.
“My job has been wonderful, the Alphas have been so nice and that’s what I’ll miss the most, talking to people every month,” said Joyce upon her retirement at 71 years old. She became known as ‘The Coordinator’s Coordinator.’ As a result, many of our Coordinators today emulate Joyce’s nurturing, yet professional service. In this way, Joyce has been an integral part of the growth of AlphaNet. The Alpha-1 Community is grateful for Joyce’s dedication and commitment to Alphas.
One of Joyce’s greatest legacy to the c ommunity is the Alpha-1 Foundation’s Alpha Angels program. This program is dedicated to deceased members of our Alpha-1 family, many of whom pioneered in research, detection, support and education efforts for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
“I am sorry to hear of Joyce’s passing. She was one of the original AlphaNet Coordinators and we worked together for years; she in Michigan, me in Massachusetts. Joyce provided a friendly informed voice to those diagnosed with the same genetic condition she had, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. As AlphaNet grew over the years, she was a mentor for future Coordinators. She and her husband Ed were fixtures at Alpha events. My Dad played golf and was Ed’s sidekick at many of the events. Joyce started keeping track of those Alphas that passed away each year and it became the “Alpha Angels” list. Joyce felt it was important to remember those Alphas lost and every year since we have had a Memorial Service at our annual National Conference and also as a dedicated page on our website for Alpha Angels. Joyce is the newest Alpha Angel and, although she has passed, her memory lives on,” remarked Fred Walsh, Alpha-1 Foundation Board of Director.
Ed preceded her in death on September 25, 2012. She is survived by her two daughters, Karen (Marc) Thomas of Greenville and Joanne Naffziger (Terry Stonehouse) of Greenville; one son, John Finch of Kentwood; grandchildren, Douglas (Ashlee) Naffziger of Grand Rapids, Matthew Naffziger of Sidney, OH, Kyle Naffziger of Greenville, and Keagan (Rob) Locke of Grand Rapids; great-grandson, Grayson; sister, Joan Kirchhoff of Grand Rapids; brother-in-law, James Finch of Rockford, IL; and many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends. Private graveside services will be held at Eureka Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be given to the Alpha-1 Foundation.
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