Joyce Haguewood Lamont passed away on February 22, 2014. Widely recognized for her work in historical preservation and her expertise on the history of the American South, Lamont excelled in her ability to promote the profession of librarianship. She became a valuable resource to scholars, teachers, students, and community members throughout Alabama during her nearly forty years of service at the Capstone.
Read words from her colleagues who are now working at different institutions in the first post dedicated to her legacy. Then follow along to learn about Kevin Ray’s memories of her service on behalf of the University. More memories from her colleagues who remain working for the Division of Special Collections at The University of Alabama conclude our commemoration.
I didn’t know Joyce all that well as I believe she retired before I came to UA in 2002 and I don’t believe I ever met her until I came to Hoole in October 2007. I recall the few times I did meet her and got to talk with her, I was always amazed by her voice. For someone who generally spoke in the higher register, her voice had a surprising depth of character. I was always entranced – not only with what she was saying, but how she said it.
She was always dressed to the nines. I never saw her without lipstick or mascara… and oh, how her eyes always sparkled. And she had a smile that could light up Tuscaloosa. She was gracious, thoughtful, and oh so knowledgeable. I know that she will be missed by so many.
Ohhh…where to start? Joyce was an absolute joy to be around! She was always willing to give good advice and help anyone that needed it. Any questions aboutAlabama history, donors, or families… and “I need to ask Joyce” would pop in my head! When I was president of the Library Support Staff Association several years ago, I invited Joyce to be a guest speaker. With the tales of library lore and UA history she shared – the staff members in attendance got a real treat! I must say that she was the best and most entertaining speaker/storyteller that I have ever known. Her knowledge of – and passion for special collections – will be greatly missed. Joyce was a wonderful friend and mentor who will never be forgotten.
It has been difficult for me to put in perspective the passing of Joyce Lamont, but I will attempt to anyway. Joyce was respected by her peers, her employees, and the community. She was a leader at a time when women didn’t have the opportunities that they have now. She was a great representative for the University of Alabama locally, state-wide, and regionally. In terms of her work as Curator of Special Collections, we have this wonderful collection because of her expertise and leadership.
I knew Joyce for 30 years. She never met a stranger, and she probably knew one of your relatives. Some of my fondest memories were of the road trips we took around the state picking-up collections. She would be telling some colorful story while we were driving and then suddenly, all the cokes she had been drinking would catch up to her. We would have to find a restroom in the middle of nowhere, and we would finally see a little local restaurant. Joyce would sprint in with arms waving and ask loudly, “Where’s yall’s bathroom?” They would point her in the general direction and she would scurry off in some cartoonish fashion barely making it to her destination, and I would be left standing there with all the locals looking at me. When she came out of the restroom, she would see a distant relative and a friend or two. We would end up eating lunch there. I could tell Joyce stories all day, but most of them I could not print. She was one of kind. Words could never do her justice; you had to experience her.
Personally, Joyce was a mentor, a boss, a friend, and a mom-away-from-home. She never gave me a bad piece of advice, and she was always willing to share. Years ago, while we were picking up a collection from Christ Episcopal Church, Joyce casually mentioned “you know, I think you and that Jennifer Mathews would make a good match.” Well, about a year and a half later, Jennifer and I got married. She was right again. God bless you Joyce, we are all better having known you.
I first met Joyce Lamont in 2001 or 2002, shortly after I began working at the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library. Over the years I got to know her better. She was intelligent, caring, beautiful, clever, and had an unbelievably sharp wit. Her granddaughters, Katie and Mary Keeley, inherited all of these traits and brought her much joy.
She is responsible for building the core of our collection here at the Hoole Library. Her ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease made people want to give materials to Special Collections; families donated hundreds of collections over the years. In addition to growing the collection, she influenced so many future librarians and archivists over the years. Who wouldn’t want to be like Joyce Lamont?
She was a great story teller and was full of uniquely southern phrases, many of which this southerner had never even heard before! My favorite is a funny way to remember how to pronounce the word “pecan” and it involves canopies and chamber pots. Only Joyce Lamont could retain her dignity and status as a great southern lady while repeating such stories.
The archival community and Tuscaloosa lost someone special. There will never be another Joyce Lamont. We in Special Collections will never forget her.