|Birth: ||Feb. 12, 1934|
|Death: ||Aug. 29, 2009|
A native of Japan, Etsuko "Joyce" La Fleur taught herself English, a skill that came in handy years later when she encountered the American serviceman who would become her husband.
She was married to Merrick La Fleur for 49 years, 39 of them in Fort Worth.
Mrs. La Fleur died Saturday at age 75 of respiratory illness, relatives said.
Born Feb. 12, 1934, in Nagasaki, Etsuko Nishioka met Merrick La Fleur in 1959 at a noncommissioned officers' club at Ashiya Air Base, where she worked as a dining hall waitress, he said.
"I used to go there every night and she'd wait on me. I thought she was kind of cute. I finally got up the nerve to ask her out," said Merrick La Fleur, 78.
About a year later, the couple tied the knot. Twice. They had to travel to Fukuoka, Japan, to get married by the American Consulate. Ten days later, on May 28, 1960, they had a church ceremony conducted by a French priest who knew some English. It was too far for either the bride's or the groom's relatives to attend, Merrick La Fleur said.
"It was just us and all the guys I worked for at the base," he said.
Mrs. La Fleur got her nickname, Joyce, at the noncom officers' club. An officer thought her smile reminded him of his daughter's and asked whether he could call her by the girl's name, said Cindy La Fleur, a daughter.
After the wedding, Mrs. La Fleur took a "bride class" taught by officers' wives on the base, where she learned to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Cindy La Fleur said.
The couple lived in several cities in Japan as Merrick La Fleur was transferred to different assignments in base operations. They lived at Travis Air Force base in Fairfield, Calif., from 1963 to 1966 and returned to Okinawa, Japan, for three years. In 1969, the family moved to Laughlin Air Force base near Del Rio, and the next year moved to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth.
The couple had three daughters. Mrs. La Fleur took care of the children at home until they were teenagers. She held several jobs in electronics, eventually working at General Dynamics and as an electronics assembler at Computalog in Fort Worth, relatives said.
When Mrs. La Fleur was hospitalized recently, her family snuck her granddaughter's chiweenie (part chihuahua and dachshund) into her room. Mrs. La Fleur regarded Shorty as her "granddog," said Susan La Fleur Collet of Aledo, a daughter.
"We ran into a police officer, he asked us, 'Is that a therapy dog?' We said yes," Collet said. "We got busted but this is what she wanted. It made her smile."
Other survivors include daughter Linda Hall of Fort Worth; three grandchildren; and two sisters and a brother who live in Japan.
Services were held at 11:30 a.m. on September 2nd, 2009, at Greenwood Funeral Home in Fort Worth.
Created by: Heather Dickinson
Record added: Nov 27, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 44858493