Joyce Briscoe

Joyce, Dec. 2005, after receiving ACLU Volunteer of Year Award
Photo by Merri Rudd, (c) 2006, All Rights Reserved

A reunion for Joyce is planned for Friday, November 3, 2006, 3-7 p.m., Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque. Click here for details.

Joyce Briscoe, 56, and her long-time friend and colleague Allys (Alice) Brice, 63, died when their car collided with a semi-truck on September 13, 2006. You can read the words, imagine the gruesome, and feel the kick in the heart pretty easily by viewing the news articles about their deaths.

Albuquerque Tribune Article

What you can’t know are the numbers of lives that Joyce and Alice touched and changed and inspired over the span of 30 years. I did not know Alice; I knew Joyce. And I cannot let the untimely death of Joyce Briscoe go by without comment.

Joyce was a tireless advocate on behalf of human and civil rights, well-known within and outside of the legal community. She volunteered thousands of hours to help protect the ideals she held so dear. Peace, justice and equality were not just abstract concepts to Joyce; she worked nonstop to enact positive change within our community. She volunteered nearly full-time at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) office in Albuquerque, for free, for fun, for conviction when she didn’t have to do a darn thing. She was “retired,” after all. She chose to volunteer, she chose to contribute, she chose to stay vigilant in today’s troubled times.

Joyce revered the U.S. Constitution, the legal and judicial systems, and the basic rights that formed our nation’s foundation. She was informed and engaging. She was never complacent, always hopeful. Even those who disagreed with Joyce probably liked her. Joyce packed more life and action into her 56 years than most of us could accomplish in several lifetimes.

Joyce also taught school for 25 years. I imagine she taught countless students to think independently and to analyze all sides of an issue before taking a position. She supported unpopular positions, based on principle. She lived with integrity. She did right for right’s sake. One of Joyce’s former students posted an eloquent and insightful tribute to Joyce at: (Remembering Joyce Briscoe, September 17, 2006). Still other students posted rememberances on the Albuquerque Tribune blog site link listed above.

Those of us who knew Joyce personally can attest that she radiated goodness and genuine care for others. She was feisty and fun; she had a compassionate heart and a resolve of steel. Whether Joyce was teaching, taking a yoga class, blogging about civil liberties, or organizing major community events, she did so with fervor and flair. May we all live our finite lives with the grace and joy and passion with which Joyce Briscoe lived hers. She deserved at least 30 more years of rabble-rousing, conscience-raising, and spirited discourse.

The glowing (and sometimes hyperbolic) adjectives that people use when describing those who have died will not be exaggerations in Joyce’s case. She was a remarkable and classy lady. We who count ourselves among her family, friends, students, and colleagues are utterly heartbroken by her absence. The best we can do to honor Joyce and Alice is to keep trying, to keep working, to keep hoping for better times.

Other tributes:
Former Albuquerque Mayor Jim Baca has posted a blog entry at:

Portions of this blog entry first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal, Business Outlook Section, “Ask the Probate Judge” column on Thursday, September 21, 2006. Reprinted with permission.

Judge Merri Rudd
Bernalillo County Probate Judge

2 Responses to “Joyce Briscoe”

  1. MR says:

    I cannot thank you enough for including such a lovely tribute to Joyce Briscoe. I was a student of Joyce’s at La Cueva High School, and we remained friends through my college years and into young adulthood. Everyone has that one teacher who inspires, encourages and challenges them like no other; Joyce was mine. I credit her for my decision to major in Literature at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Southern California. And although we had very little in common personally, we forged a fantastic friendship based in a shared thirst for literature. As Joyce desired no memorial service, I have been searching for ways to remember her and grieve her death. I so appreciated the words in your column. Thank you, Francesca

  2. Lynn Tanksley says:

    Amazingly enough, after 18 years and 10 moves, I found on my bookshelf a notebook of notes from her English class in 86-87. One piece I had punched holes in and included is a half-sheet with questions to answer as we watched the movie Apocaplyse Now. It was only a half-sheet because there were only a few questions. And at the top of the paper it says “Use Recycled Paper.” Doesn’t that just bring back the memories?