Tribute To Joyce Noreen Hoyte: November 30, 1934 – February 14, 2011

Submitted by Rickford Burke, Former Special Assistant to the late Hugh Desmond Hoyte


Former Guyanese First Lady Joyce Noren Hoyte

I join all Guyanese in express profound sadness at the passing of my dear friend, former First Lady of Guyana, Mrs. Joyce Noreen Hoyte – wife of the late President of Guyana, Hugh Desmond Hoyte.  Mrs. Hoye’s death is especially heartrending for me personally, as our friendship was uniquely post-political. We enjoyed a deep, affectionate maternal bond that spans over two decades.

During the three weeks of her hospitalization, we spoke every day. She was full of life, as it were. I admired her exuberance and resilient, hopeful spirit. I encouraged her, and she assured me, that all will be well. She was looking forward to traveling to New York to convalesce, and if necessary, undergo additional medical checks.  Unfortunately, the sting of death denied her this wish.   Admittedly her sudden death was shocking!

Mrs. Hoyte was a strong human being; a decent woman and gracious First Lady. She eschewed divisive politics and conducted herself with exceptional humility, class and dignity. She was very reclusive and private but quietly wielded significant influence in society through her radiant personality and matriarchal insights.

She was a shrewd woman who was known for her political savvy and keen sense of history. This coupled with her sharp mind and unblemished memory qualified her as a depository of a wealth of knowledge and information. Her uncanny appreciation for history led her recall every detail of significant moments of world, Guyanese and PNC history. And she produced documentation; including newspaper or magazine articles, to support her account of momentous history.

Mrs. Joyce Hoyte chatting with President Bharrat Jagdeo

Joyce Hoyte was the mountain of strength behind her husband, President Desmond Hoyte. She was in her own right a strategist who emerged as the defender and protector in chief of her husband’s political career, policies and legacy.  In this regard, no one dared to cross her.

Her life epitomized enormous courage and reflected a vista of sacrifice to the Guyanese nation – a price she literally paid with the lives of her husband and only two daughters; Maxine and Amanda, who along with her sister Gwendolyn and her driver, all died in a horrific car accident on the Soesdyke/Linden Highway on April 31, 1985 – They were enroute to the town of Linden to hear her husband, then the Prime Minister, deliver the Labor Day address on May 1, 1985.   Mrs. Hoyte herself was severely injured in the accident but after an extended period of treatment in Cuba, made a remarkable and complete recovery – a testament to her indomitable will as a fighter as well as her spirit of determination.

Joyce Hoyte had an unpublicized passion for charity to which she especially dedicated herself while serving as First Lady of Guyana. Equal to this passion was her love for young people; her dog Honey Bee and her hair – which she visited the stylist to groom on Thursdays. Although she loathed attending social events, she had to have her frequent hair do, which finished with her trademark bounce of purple-blue glazing her long silver hair.

To the end of her sojourn, Joyce lived a happy, contented life. I will miss her wit and candor. I will miss our frequent conversations and her wise counsel, and I will miss her pragmatic analysis of world and contemporary Guyanese politics.

Today we mourn her death and say good bye but find solace in the assurance that on Valentines’ Day 2011, she slid away to meet her husband, and reunite with her daughters. We find solace in the assurance that Joyce is resting comfortably in the arms of the Lord in eternal glory, where there is no more pain or suffering. We find solace in her perennial admonition that “when I die, don’t cry for me; celebrate my life and let me go in peace.” So, as we mourn her passing let us all be inspired by one of her favorite passages of scripture – Psalm 30: 5: “In his favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  May she Rest in Peace!

0 thoughts on “Tribute To Joyce Noreen Hoyte: November 30, 1934 – February 14, 2011


  1. Our deepest sympathy to the family of the late former first lady Hoyte.

    If I remember correctly she had to suffer and fight for her right to get her pension as the wife of a deceased president which Jagdeo played politics with.

    A very dignified looking woman.

    Rest in Peace Joyce.


  2. Mash Up & Buy Back

    “If I remember correctly she had to suffer and fight for her right to get her pension as the wife of a deceased president which Jagdeo played politics with.”

    You have that right.
    Jagdeo, best buddy of Owen “seethru”Arthur. He would have done the same thing.


  3. Also passing away on the same day as Lady Hoyte and at the same St. Joseph Mercy hospital was Former Commissioner of Police(Guyana), Henry Alphonso Fraser. They both died before midday.

    In an interview recently he said: “…………that if you did not treat the citizens properly, you in essence would lose a customer. He felt that citizens who were treated well by the police when they came to make reports or when they required assistance would later become ‘friends of the force’ and offer unknown assistance at some point in the future.”

    Something the local police should bear in mind.

    Also R.I.P. Commissioner Fraser.

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