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September 27, 2023

Patterson named Mother of the Year

MOTHER OF THE YEAR — Taylorsville resident Joyce Patterson (seated) was named The Times’ Mother of the Year for 2023 after her daughter Joy P. Gardner (standing) wrote the winning essay in the annual contest. Patterson won a $50 gift card to a local restaurant and 4 Hickory Crawdads tickets.


Joyce Patterson, age 94 of Taylorsville, is special lady — a mother in the truest sense. Just ask her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Her daughter Joy P. Gardner, of Hiddenite, wrote the 2023 winning entry in The Times’ annual Mother of the Year essay contest. The Times was able to sit down with both mother and daughter this week and hear all about the loving nature of this special mom.

“I would say Mom’s greatest gift is a servant’s heart,” Joy wrote in her essay.

Joyce has served God and served her family dutifully for scores of years. Together with her late husband, Kenneth, the couple raised three children: Joy, Cindy, and Gary. The family has grown now to include eight grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

As the wife of a County Extension Agent, it was a natural fit that Joyce likes to be outdoors and likes gardening. It was often their Saturday pasttime to go to a local restaurant for a
biscuit, go to Lowe’s and buy plants such as azaleas to place in their yard, then come home and plant them. She also favors daffodils, irises, and Knockout roses.

Although mobility issues affect her somewhat, Joyce’s neighbor helped by constructing raised beds for planting a garden in the yard, helping her continue her fruitful hobby of gardening, now often assisted by a golf cart. In fact, this week, Joy and Joyce were planting cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans in the raised beds to enjoy later this summer.

“I enjoy working out in the yard but I don’t have her green thumb,” Joy admits.

Joy notes that her mother “is a great example of the qualities God intended when He created the role of motherhood.”

The daughter of the late Ed and Daphne Mooney of the Ellendale Community, Joyce recalls hoeing corn, helping in the garden, and being one of five girls and five boys in a big family growing up. Joyce said her mother was a “wonderful cook,” too.

Joyce made her daughters Sunday dresses when they were children and most of their playclothes. She even sewed her grandchildren’s dresses and Barbie doll dresses.

From singing hymns while doing her housework to teaching Sunday School at First Baptist Church to cooking countless meals and snacks for Joy, her siblings, family, and friends, Joyce has touched many lives over the years with her kindness and faith.

Joyce noted that “Amazing Grace” is her favorite hymn.

She is glad her family is still close knit. Most Sundays, they gather at her house for dinner, with Joyce still planning the meals and even doing some of the cooking.

“She’s still an amazing cook,” said Joy.

Joy is fond of her mom’s blueberry pie, fried chicken, chicken and dumplins, green beans, spaghetti, and other dishes.

“For many years, people would call her to make a birthday bake or chocolate chip cookies on church trips,” Joy commented.

One grandson who is graduating from UNC this spring will be moving to Colorado. Joyce promised to make her chicken casserole and creamed corn especially for him before he moves away.

After this coming Sunday’s Mother’s Day dinner, family members look forward to their yearly trip in June to Ocean Isle Beach on the N.C. coast, where Joyce is sure to be an integral part of the trip.


I would like to nominate my sweet mom for Mother of the Year. Joyce Patterson is a great example of the qualities God intended when He created the role of motherhood. Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” I certainly have many reasons to praise and honor my mom.

First of all, I want to honor her faith. Throughout my life, I have witnessed her devotion to the Lord. When I was a little girl, she would sing hymns as she did her housework. She and Daddy led us in family devotions every night. Now that Dad has passed, Mom clings even more to her faith, and her time with the Lord grows more precious.

I would say that Mom’s greatest gift is a servant’s heart. She loves to bless others, especially with her cooking. When we were in college, on Sunday afternoons she would have so many containers for us to take back to our dorm friends — Chex mix, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, molasses cookies — all the goodies. And on Sunday nights, my dorm room would mysteriously fill up with girls who just “stopped by” to see what treats I had brought from home. Mom continued that tradition with her grandchildren, sending baked goods and snacks with them whenever they returned to college. She has always enjoyed making cakes and trays of goodies for friends and for some of the businesses in town. Even now, she is still in charge of the Sunday lunch at her house. We all pitch in to help, but her motto seems to be, “I want to do this as long as I possibly can.” Serving others is her way of serving the Lord. She may not be able to get out and visit others like she once did, but she calls folks to check on them, and she writes so many cards! She says, “That’s one thing I can still do!” And if there is anything my mom is ABLE to do for others, she is committed to doing it!

One of her greatest loves is being outside and working in the yard. She and Dad spent so many years working together in the garden and the yard. After he passed, we knew she would miss working in a garden. One of her thoughtful neighbors built her six raised beds, so she could still have a garden. We ride out there in the golf cart, and she moves carefully from one bed to another, tying up tomatoes or picking green beans. She is happiest when she is out there working in that area, talking about gardening tips she learned from Dad, and tending to those plants. I think that’s when she feels closest to Dad.

We used to laugh about how fast Mom walked. She would pitter-patter all over the house, going about her day, with energy and enthusiasm about everything she did. Now she uses a walker to get around, and her steps are slower. But the enthusiasm is still there! Her home is always a place of warmth and cheerfulness. You won’t find Mom in a grumpy or complaining mood — she doesn’t have one. The Joy of the Lord lives in my mom.

Joy Gardner, Hiddenite, NC


  1. Marlene Millet on May 11, 2023 at 12:47 am

    What a beautiful tribute to your Mother. You do indeed have priceless treasure in your Mother.
    Blessings for a wonderful Mother’s Day with your beloved Mother and extended family. Thank you for sharing such a heart warming story.

  2. Michael Harrison on May 18, 2023 at 9:52 am

    This makes me proud of your mom and you! Now, about those goodies trays…

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