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METAIRIE, LA: A Memorial service for Dr. Joyce Inez Johnson Bolden, 90 who peacefully transitioned with her daughter and grandson by her side on January 6, 2023, at her daughter’s home in Metairie, LA will be held Tuesday, January 16th, at 11:00a.m. at Oakland Memorial Chapel at Alcorn State University with Rev. C.J. Johnson officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations in her name to: Prentiss Institute, Alcorn State University or Fisk University. An Omega Omega ceremony will be held by the Alcorn Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. at 9:30a.m. at the chapel. Thompson Funeral Home, Inc. in Port Gibson is in charge of the services.
She was born in New Orleans, LA on December 27, 1933, to Alcee LaBranche and Thelma Wethers Johnson.
Joyce was raised on the campus of Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute, a college preparatory and junior college institution of higher learning, which was founded by her paternal grandparents, Jonas Edward & Bertha LaBranche Johnson in June of 1907.
Joyce received her early education at the Institute. She grew up loving music and played piano at age 4 in all the local churches in Prentiss and surrounding areas. At 15 she began her collegiate education at Fisk University (Nashville, TN) and graduated in the Spring of 1953, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and subsequently added organ to her repertoire of musical training. She was the 3rd generation graduate in her family of Fisk University. Dr. Bolden extended her education and studied Music at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) and earned a Master of Arts degree in Music at the University of Illinois- Champagne-Urbana (Urbana, IL). She also studied Music at Heidelberg University (Heidelberg, Germany) afterwards earning her Doctor of Philosophy Degree at Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI). She was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate degree in Music from Michigan State University.
Dr. Bolden's teaching and professional career began at Utica Junior College in Utica, MS where she met many lifelong friends, including the love of her life, James L. “Billy” Bolden. They were married in 1954 and later moved to Alcorn State University in 1957. To this union their only child was born, Pamela Joyce Bolden Gracin, while they both served on the faculty at Alcorn State University. She gave 42 years of devoted love and service to Alcorn State University and considered herself an "Alcornite." She served in many capacities at Alcorn State University including Concert Choir Director, Music Professor, Honors Colloquium Professor, and Fine Arts Department Chairman. Along with teaching and mentoring, the accomplishments she was most proud of were initiating scholarships for music majors and music ensemble participants and in particular, spearheading the initial accreditation for Alcorn State University into the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). She later became the first woman and first minority Chairman of the Commission on Accreditation for NASM headquartered in Reston, Virginia. After retiring from Alcorn State University in June 1999, Dr. Bolden served as a consultant to a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities aiding them in their successful quest to have their college music programs accredited by NASM. Alcorn State University named its Fine Arts Department Building in her honor on November 18, 2016, and additionally named her one of its "Notable Alcorn Women." Her social and professional memberships included: initiated into Alpha Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated at Fisk University; The Links, Incorporated; Charter member of Alcorn State University Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated; Prentiss Institute Board of Trustees; NASM; Phi Delta Kappa professional organization for educators; and the Claiborne County Preservation Committee.
Joyce was proceeded in death by her parents Alcee & Thelma Johnson; her loving husband of 42 years, James L. “Billy” Bolden; a grandson, James Anthony Hutchinson; sister-in-law, Dr Jacquelyn Bolden Beck and brother-in-law, Dr. Thomas Bolden.
Dr. Bolden leaves to cherish her memory her daughter Pamela Bolden Gracin (Richard); beloved grandson Nicholas Gerard Hutchinson; brother Al Wethers Johnson (Classie); nieces Tasha Johnson Brown (Harry), Juanda Beck Jones, Classie LaShae Johnson, Jennifer Lee Swanson (Richard); nephew Eric Bolden; great nieces Elizabeth Jones, Taija, Taylor, and Tia Brown; great nephew Cameron King; cousins, Barbara Carson, Eva Hannah, Carla Wethers Bell (Kenneth) and a host of other relatives and friends.