Joyce was born in 1939 in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, to Reverend and Mrs. Louis Bultena. She obtained her elementary and secondary education in the Price Laboratory School at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, where her father served as professor of sociology. She excelled in science among other things, winning a state high school science fair competition.
Upon graduation from high school she enrolled at Iowa State University, from which she received a B.S. degree with honors in chemistry in 1960. She was elected to membership in several honorary societies including Alpha Lambda Delta, Phi Kappa Phi, and Iota Sigma Pi. In 1960 she married Thomas McGee, a graduate of the mathematics department at Iowa State University. They moved to Burnsville, Minnesota, where her husband was employed in developing computer programs and she became a Science Aide in the Burnsville High School. They had two children, David and Stephanie.
At the age of 45 Joyce was diagnosed as having breast cancer. She displayed great tenacity and courage in battling this disease, never letting her physical condition diminish her attention to her family or sense of compassion for the problems of others. Although she successfully battled the cancer for five years, she eventually succumbed to its debilitating effects on July 11, 1989. Joyce is dearly remembered by her family as a loving sister, wife, and mother who did not let the ravages of cancer dampen her enthusiasm for life and dedication to her family.
Despite often intense pain she continued working as a Science Aide because of the fulfillment that she obtained from seeing students enjoy the study of science as she had in her high school and college education. She never shrank from her family responsibilities, securing great joy in raising her two children, building a rich family life with her husband and continuing to serve in her church. To her family, Joyce is a model of how the human spirit can continue to thrive and grow despite great adversity. She gave much of her shortened life to helping others and left a rich legacy for others to follow.