Joanne B. Doxey, former Relief Society general leader, dies at age 88

Sister Joanne B. Doxey, who served as second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and on the Primary general board, died Saturday, Nov. 7, in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 88.

When asked about the influence of Relief Society in the world, Sister Doxey responded, “As women, we must have balance in our lives. To me, the gospel is my life. There is nothing in the gospel precepts that aren’t in harmony with my beliefs.”

If women will “lay aside the things of the world,” as the Lord told Emma in the 25th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, and seek the better part, Sister Doxey said, “we will have a happy, rejoicing time.”

Joanne Bushman was born in Salt Lake City on April 17, 1932, as the youngest of five children to Bliss LeRoi and Eva Murdoch Bushman. She developed her own desire to be a mother from watching the tender example of her mother. “She had great patience and love,” Sister Doxey said of her.

As a young girl, she knew she wanted to be a mother. “I received my patriarchal blessing when I was 14, and it gave me great strength and direction through my teenage years. It spoke of children yet unborn to come to me.”

While attending East High School, she met David W. Doxey. The two became friends, and after he served a two and a half year mission, she married her high school sweetheart on June 7, 1954. “We balance each other,” Sister Doxey said of him. Together they are the parents of five sons and three daughters and have 38 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.

David W. and Joanne B. Doxey at their home in Salt Lake City. Sister Doxey was called to the general Relief Society presidency in 1984.
David W. and Joanne B. Doxey at their home in Salt Lake City. Sister Doxey was called to the general Relief Society presidency in 1984. Credit: Church News archive

Sister Doxey loved being a mother. In a Church News interview, Sister Doxey said, “That’s my favorite position in the whole world.”

That same profile compared watching the 5-foot, 4-inch, blue-eyed blond manage the affairs of home, family, Church and personal interests to “watching an expert juggler of time and energy. Without missing a beat, it seems, she keeps a dozen projects in simultaneous motion.”

She graduated from the University of Utah with a double major in child development and interior design. Both majors proved useful as she reared her children in a home she designed. Her varied interests, which included anything from Egyptian history to “anything that has a tie with the gospel,” led her to earn a master’s degree in family science from Brigham Young University, with an emphasis in religion, at the age of 61.

While raising her family, she also wrote poetry and founded a music publishing company. Many of her songs are published in the Children’s Songbook, including “”Where Love Is” and “Seek the Lord Early.”

Brother and Sister Doxey served as president and companion of the Spain Barcelona Mission until Sister Doxey was called to the Primary general board in 1981. She served as a counselor to Relief Society General President Barbara W. Winder from 1984 to 1990. She and her husband also served as the temple president and matron of the Madrid Spain Temple from 2002 to 2005.

In the October 1989 general conference, Sister Doxey spoke of the important work and eternal influence women have in their homes and families. “There is always sacrifice required when working toward long-range goals like striving toward an Olympic gold medal, a mark of excellence in school, a flawless performance, or other extended efforts. Raising children is no different,” she said.

She is preceded in death by her parents, Bliss and Eva Bushman, sisters Nadine Barton and Colleen Lemmon, brother Bliss Bushman, her infant son Joseph Doxey and two grandsons, John and Jeffrey Stevens. 

Surviving loved ones include her husband, David Doxey; children: Dave, Gary, Steve, Jim, Debbie Stevens, Cindy Green, and Christie Facer; and sister, Beverly McCune.