Joyce's Story

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Joyce Marilyn (Hughes) Braithwaite-Brickley passed away on the evening of May 18, 2017 at the age of 84. Joyce was born Nov. 22, 1932 in Charlotte, to Thomas Edward Hughes and Inez Opal (Johnson) Hughes. Joyce grew up in Charlotte, graduating from high school in 1951.
Joyce was most widely known for her career in Michigan politics and government. She began her professional career as a secretary at the State Accident Fund in Lansing. Referring to her time as a secretary, Joyce was quoted in a 1969 Lansing State Journal article saying that she had "dabbed in politics, on a small scale" and "served as secretary of the Eaton County Republican Committee, licking envelopes and helping with a multitude of small chores connected with county politics." When fellow Charlotte resident, Elly Peterson ran for state vice GOP chairman in 1961, it was Joyce's first real participation in a state convention, saying "I think that's when I got hooked. The behind-the-scenes work and the intricate maneuvers were very exciting to me at the time."
In 1964, Elly ran for election to the U.S. Senate, and Joyce did much of Elly's scheduling. Weekends found Joyce driving the campaign bus around the state with forays at fairs, barbecues and parades. Joyce's two sons fondly recall joining the campaign at events and door-to-door efforts.
Elly was elected Michigan State GOP Chairman in early 1965, the first woman in the nation to fill such a post. Joyce then went to work on a full-time basis for four years in Lansing as administrative assistant to Elly, driving to cities throughout Michigan, coordinating various arms of the Republican Party in the state, and acting as liaison at every level, from ringing doorbells in local precincts to taking part in political activities on the national level.
It was once said that for five years they had been like ditto marks. Elly Peterson and Joyce Braithwaite, both residents of Charlotte, working throughout Michigan together for the good of their party and state.
In 1969, Joyce was appointed an executive aid to Gov. William G. Milliken, Michigan's longest serving governor. Two years later, she was named the governor's executive assistant for Boards, Commissions and Political Liaison. In that capacity Joyce was responsible for the extensive appointments process, reviewing potential nominees to licensing and regulating boards, college boards of control, and filling of judicial vacancies. She provided recommendations to the governor for his final consideration during which more than 10,000 positions were filled.
For Gov. Milliken she also acted as liaison with county and district Republican chairmen around the state, and legislative liaison, working on bills in the House and Senate which were on the governor's priority list. In 1978, she served as Gov. Milliken's campaign manager in his successful re-election effort in which he achieved the largest winning margin of his political career as he swept to his third and final gubernatorial term.
Joyce remained at all times steadfast and unwavering in her support of women's rights. In a 1978 Detroit News interview she stated that her responsibilities held only one disappointment for her - "I don't see enough women apply for gubernatorial appointments. There are women in this state who could fill any job in Michigan government, and I urge them to apply when speaking to women's groups." She went on to say that "it's exciting to see women serve in places they haven't before. We just need more." Joyce also had been an outspoken advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1982, Joyce moved from Okemos to Traverse City where she lived for the remainder of her life. In 1984, Joyce married former Michigan Lieutenant Governor and state Supreme Court Justice James H. Brickley.
After moving from the Lansing area Joyce continued to be a free-lance writer whose articles appeared in the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Lansing State Journal and many other newspapers and magazines. Joyce was co-author with George Weeks of The Milliken Years: A Pictorial Reflection, published in 1988 by the Traverse City Record-Eagle and Village Press.
Joyce was a lifelong fan of the performance arts and appeared in theatrical productions of the Lansing Circle Playhouse, the Lansing Civic Players, the Ledges Playhouse, and did radio and television voice-overs. While living in Traverse City she particularly enjoyed boating, traveling and attending theatrical productions. She actively supported many local events and organizations.
Joyce was preceded in death by her husband, James H. Brickley; and cherished long-time friends, Elly Peterson and Helen Milliken.
Joyce is survived by sons, Kevin (Patty) Braithwaite and Todd Braithwaite; granddaughter, Kaitlin Braithwaite (fiance Dylan Haan); and cherished long-time friends, William Milliken and George Weeks.
Joyce did not wish to have a service in her memory, only wanting it to be known that she was grateful for the many wonderful friends and experiences she was so fortunate to have enjoyed.
Online condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.greastlansing.com.
The family is being served by Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes, East Lansing.
Published on May 20, 2017
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