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April 23, 2024

Joan Gilreath Sykes

Joan Gilreath Sykes

Joan Gilreath Sykes, lovingly referred to as Joan, peacefully departed from this earthly realm on August 4, 2023, at the age of 87, in Durham.

Born on November 7, 1935, in Hiddenite, Joan exemplified the virtues of humility, gratitude, and respect for all of creation, guided by her unwavering faith in the Divine.

Throughout her life, Joan embodied the teachings of Christ, radiating kindness, compassion, and love to all who had the privilege of crossing her path. Her devotion to her family and her unwavering commitment to her work were a testament to her deep-rooted Christian values.

In partnership with her beloved husband, Cooper Sykes, Joan embarked on a remarkable journey, opening Cooper Kenworth in 1972. Their joint efforts and steadfast dedication allowed their business to flourish, becoming a beacon of excellence within their community.

Joan’s spiritual life found its sanctuary within the sacred walls of McMannen Methodist Church. In 1962, she joined the church as her spiritual home, embracing the teachings of Christ with a heart full of reverence. For four decades, Joan’s angelic voice graced the choir, lifting the spirits of the congregation in harmonious worship. She actively participated in the annual Harvest Festival, joyfully contributing her time and talents to its success. As a servant leader, Joan humbly accepted the responsibility of guiding the United Methodist Women, exemplifying the virtues of grace, compassion, and selflessness.

Joan’s truest joys were found within the embrace of her cherished family. As one of fifteen siblings, she treasured the bonds of kinship and held her brothers and sisters close to her heart. Joan’s role as “Nana” to her four grandchildren and great-granddaughter brought her immeasurable happiness and fulfillment. She nourished their spirits with unconditional love, imparting upon them the wisdom of generations past.

A remarkable athlete in her youth, Joan’s basketball prowess was legendary. Her skill on the court was awe-inspiring, averaging an astonishing 52 points per game in high school. In a display of unrivaled brilliance, she once achieved the remarkable feat of scoring an astonishing 102 points in a single game. In another example of her athletic abilities, she played her one and only round of golf at Augusta National.

Joan is survived by her loving husband, Cooper Sykes, and they were happily married for 68 years. She is also survived by her daughter, Allison Laing (Russell); son, Alex Sykes (Jennifer); grandchildren, Brooke Laing Reid (Chris), Grace Sykes Pennerat (Johan), Casey Laing, and Samuel Sykes; great-grandchild, Alston Reid; sisters, Alice Robertson, Mittena Johnson, and Bonnie Osmer (Fred); and brother, Mark Gilreath.

A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 11, at McMannen Methodist Church. A reception will be held in the Fellowship Hall following the service.

The family wishes to thank her incredible church family for their support through her illness. With special thanks to her caregivers, especially Grace Underwood and Karla Crews, for their unwavering devotion.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to McMannen United Methodist Church, 4102 Neal Rd #2320, Durham, NC 27705; or the Durham Rescue Mission, PO Box 11368, Durham, NC 27703.

As we bid farewell to Joan in her earthly form, we hold onto the cherished memories of her humble spirit, her grateful heart, and her respect for all of God’s creations. May her legacy continue to inspire us to live lives filled with love, kindness, and unwavering faith, as she did throughout her remarkable journey.

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