Proverbs 31.29 puts the praise of an ideal woman in the mouth of her husband “many women have done excellently, but you have surpassed them all”, and the text appears on a 1987 gravestone in St Nicolas’ churchyard, the husband having been the priest at our Bishop Edward King Church (“BEK”) at the time of his wife’s death.
They would have known well Joyce Pearson, a member of that church from its foundation in the local Labour Club in 1968 continuing as the lynch-pin of activities at what is now the Bishop King Centre until this month. Her death has left a very big gap – it was not for nothing that she was named as Grimsby’s ‘Inspirational Woman’ a couple of years ago.
BEK friends worked hard with her family to pick hymns for her funeral which gave it an appropriate and truly distinctive flavour: Brother, sister, let me serve you; Make me a channel of your peace; My eyes have seen the glory. We almost danced her coffin out of church to the last of those.
And Anne McCormick. the last priest at BEK, suggested we use Proverbs 31.10-31 as a reading at the service. It was extraordinary how easy it was to stitch together texts from it as I spoke about her.
Her family’s memories included her Sunday, birthday and Christmas cooking and she cooked for the weekly Chatterbox drop-in and lunches – she rises while it is still night to prepare food not just for her family.
Her church friends remembered everything from sponsored crossings of the Humber Bridge for Christian Aid to her welcome for the most vulnerable - she reaches out her hands to the needy.
There was never ending attention to the BEK building including cleaning away even when other things were going on - she does not eat the bread of idleness.