H. Joyce Withee, 79, beloved wife of Norman R. Withee, died unexpectedly Oct. 8, 2010.

Joyce was born Feb. 15, 1931, in Rockland, a daughter of Peter and Hilda (Harju) Hill, the youngest of their five children. She attended Rockport schools until her parents moved the family to the Alta Vista Farm on Muzzy Ridge Road, Searsmont, in 1938. She attended Searsmont and Belfast schools, and Gorham State Teachers College.

Joyce married Norman Withee of Portland on April 24, 1949. Norman’s career took them to several towns in Maine, including Belfast, Searsmont, Greenville and Guilford.

Once her three children were in school, Joyce worked in various positions as a substitute teacher and aide, weather observer for the state of Maine Forestry Service, court officer, and census bureau employee. Her quest for knowledge and attention to detail always prevailed.

Joyce volunteered tirelessly in communities where she lived. She attended the University of Maine, gaining a certificate in library science, which she applied as a volunteer and board of directors member of the Guilford Memorial Library and at the Bangor Public Library in the children’s room.

Moving back to Searsmont in 1987, she established the Searsmont Town Library. From a simple reading room grew a full-fledged accredited library with the support and aid of other community members. Joyce was a willing and energetic advocate of establishing a new community building to house a library, town offices, heritage room and community room in Searsmont. In 1998 she turned over the leadership of the library, yet remained very active until the new facility was completed.

In recognition, of her work as the first librarian, the library displays her portrait and a scholarship fund was established in her name. Joyce then concentrated her efforts on the Searsmont Historical Society. She became the curator, applying her organizational skills to create professional standard systems. She was an expert on the history of Searsmont and an avid researcher for those seeking genealogical information. Joyce was also a talented artist, writer, storyteller, gardener and homemaker.

Joyce was very proud of her Finnish heritage. She and her family traveled to Finland in 2004 to visit the regions where her parents had lived and meet her extended family. She thoroughly enjoyed life and everything it offered. Joyce’s husband, children and grandchildren gave her the greatest pleasure.

Joyce was predeceased by her parents; three sisters, Aune Hill, Anna (“Lil”) Stearns and her husband, Lester, and Irja Wilson and her husband, William; and a brother, Viljo Hill.

Norman and Joyce have three children, Karen J. Withee of Searsmont, Mark Withee and his wife, Bonnie Flaherty, of Sullivan and Valerie and her husband, Ronald Nielsen, of Freeport; three grandchildren, Michelle Withee of Ellsworth, and Kurt Nielsen and Erika Nielsen, both of Freeport. She is also survived by a sister-in-law, Pauline Hill, of Searsmont; a brother-in-law, Owen Gross, of Stonington; a close family friend, John McGarvey, of Winter Haven, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held Saturday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m. at the Searsmont Methodist Church with the Rev. George Hodgkins officiating. A reception will be held following the service at the Searsmont Community Center.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the H. Joyce Withee Scholarship Fund, c/o Town of Searsmont, P.O. Box 56, Searsmont, ME 04973.

Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain St., Camden.