Joy Shelby Hairston Ward

August 27, 1927 ~ May 21, 2019 (age 91)


WARD, Joy Shelby Hairston

Born in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, August 27th, 1927, daughter of Louis C. & Stacie Smith Shelby, made her final stage exit May 21st, 2019, at the age of 91.

Joy loved dancing at the Memphis Open Air Theatre. In 1943, at age 15, Joy became a Radio City Music Hall Rockette after one week of practice, as the youngest member of the corps. However, when she filled out the employment papers, they realized she had to be 16 to dance and had to wait 6 months to get back on stage. After the Rockettes, she attended Christian College, before teaching dance at Mississippi State College for Women. It was there, on a blind date, she met Capt. Robert Hairston, just returning from China as a pilot with the U.S. Air Force Flying Tigers and attending Mississippi State University. They married in 1946.

As an Air Force wife with two children, she and her husband were stationed in England, Bermuda, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and finally Miami. During these moves, she found time to make television commercials, volunteer at the base hospital, play golf and raise two children. Her husband of 45 years, Lt. Col. Robert E. Hairston, passed away in 1991. In 1999 she married another Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Edward Ward and was married for 3 years until he passed away.

She was a member of Plymouth Congregational Church, Daughters of the American Revolution and a member of Coral Reef Yacht Club for 44 years.

She is survived by her daughter, Shelby Hairston Pilkington (husband Doug); son, Robert E. Hairston, Jr.; and granddaughter, Stacie Shelby Pilkington Robbins (husband Glen).

Services will be held at Plymouth Congregational Church, 3400 Devon Road, Miami, FL 33133 at 4 PM on Sunday, May 26, 2019.

To plant a tree in memory of Joy Shelby Hairston Ward, please visit our tribute store.


May 26, 2019

4:00 PM to TBD
Plymouth Congregational Church
3400 Devon Road
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

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