Joyce Knowles Williams

Published 12:42 pm Monday, June 27, 2022

Joyce Knowles Williams, 86, of Smithfield passed away peacefully in Williamsburg, Virginia on June 14, 2022. She is predeceased by her husband of 52 years, Rex Williams; parents, Fred and Ruth Knowles of Rhode Island; and brother Kenneth Knowles. Joyce is survived by her two sons, Todd (Lori) of Williamsburg, Virginia and Jay (Kris) Williams of Arlington, Virginia; grandchildren, Ashley, Lindsey, Andrew, Jacob, and Kylie; sister-in-law, Sally Knowles of Rhode Island; niece, Cindy (Dan) Kane and nephew, Bob (Jane) Knowles of Rhode Island; and cousin, Kathy (Donald) Braham of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Joyce was born in Warwick, Rhode Island. She spent her youth enjoying the waters at Edgewood Yacht Club with family and friends and sailing on Narragansett Bay. Following high school, Joyce earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and graduate degree from Boston University in Nursing. After graduating, she worked as a hospital pediatric nurse in Washington, D.C. Later, Joyce joined the faculty at George Mason University as a professor of nursing. During her career at George Mason University, she worked closely with the international nursing program. She traveled to Saudi Arabia to set up the nursing department and train pediatric nurses for a hospital being built by the king in the 1990’s.

During her lifetime, Joyce enjoyed sailing, skiing, sewing, reading, and painting crafts. In coverage of a sailing competition while attending Brown University, she appeared in the May 27, 1957 issue of Sports Illustrated. “Grammy” was a gifted seamstress and loved making American Girl outfits for her granddaughters’ dolls, as well as sewing matching outfits for the girls to wear when they were young.

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In retirement, she and Rex moved to Smithfield to be closer to their grandchildren. Joyce was an active member of the Women’s Club and Red Hat Society. She knitted hats for newborns in hospital nurseries, participated in a book club, enjoyed weekly mahjong games and monthly lunch excursions with her friends, and dinners with friends at the Gatling Pointe Yacht Club. She and Rex also enjoyed taking cruises at different locations around the world. Grammy was well known at her grandchildren’s soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey games. Her gentle soul will be truly missed by all who knew her.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, July 2, 2022, 11 a.m. at Little’s Funeral Home in Smithfield. The family will receive friends following the service at the funeral home. Interment will follow at a later date in Albert G. Horton Veterans’ Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity or animal rescue of your choice would be greatly appreciated. Online condolences may be registered at