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Joseph Joyner

January 9, 1925 ~ October 26, 2017 (age 92)

Joseph Joyner was born Jan. 9, 1925 in Daytona Beach, Florida to Joseph Joyner and Florida Louise Joyner.

As a young boy delivering newspapers, Joyner noticed his local church. There he converted to Catholicism and began to attend Mass.

A passion for music led him to play the trumpet in his teenage years for Pastor Burdine and His Fifteen Hip Deacons, but since his childhood, Joyner was an avid violin player, a habit he carried out with regular lessons his entire life. His favorite was Christmas songs and caroling.

When he was sixteeen-years-old, Joe fudged his age to enter World War II, serving his country in Europe (Sicily, Italy), North Africa (Morocco, Algeria) and Asia (Philippines).

In January 1946 the G.I. Bill brought him to Morehouse College. There he met a nursing student named Charlie Williams at a nursing school dance. The two would be married shortly after Joyner graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology.

While living in Atlanta, Joyner enjoyed hearing the social philosophy evoked in sermons by Martin Luther King, Sr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church and William Holmes Borders at Wheat Street Baptist Church.

Though the two did not travel in the same social circles, Joyner and Martin Luther King, Jr. attended Morehouse at the same time.  There they took a philosophy class together where they would argue the meaning of logic, religion, and the words of philosophers like Plato.

A passion for teaching and science led him to seek further education at the University of Chicago and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where Charlie and Joe welcomed their first daughter Vallera to the world in 1950.

In 1962 he became a medical doctor with a degree from Meharry Medical College. Joyner taught medicine at Meharry from 1954 to 1965.

Joyner would travel to Madras, India for the World Health Organization and later at the Sorbonne in France as a fellow lecturing and studying diseases like smallpox.

In 1967 he moved to San Diego to establish a medical practice with his wife's brother Matthew Williams.

Working as a pediatrician, part-time clinical assistant professor at UC San Diego, Joyner became San Diego's first African American pediatrician. His practice began in hospitals around San Diego, but later focused on Southeast San Diego, then a center of Black San Diego.

In 1974 Joyner joined a group of eleven physicians known as the Western Medical Group established the Southeast Medical Center, a two million dollar health center offering a comprehensive, one-stop-shop at 286 Euclid Ave., near Market Street and Euclid Avenue. 

Built entirely with private money, twenty-two doctors, surgeons and dentists shared the space that included x-ray, laboratory and pharmaceutical services.

Joyner primarily did charitable work at Southeast Medical Center and worked at San Diego's major hospitals including Children's Hospital, Mercy Hospital, Paradise Valley Hospital, UCSD Medical Center, and Scripps Memorial Hospital in Chula Vista. He also practiced medicine at the Southern California Medical Clinic in National City until 1992.

During the 1990’s, Joyner served as a missionary and pediatrician in Chikore, Zimbabwe, a city that locals said had no regular physician for fifty years before his arrival. There he would support patients with malaria, AIDS, measles, and tuberculosis.

He was an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul unit at Santa Sophia in Spring Valley, helping with the church's food pantry.

Joyner enjoyed playing tennis, reading history, biographies, gardening and spending time with his thirteen grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his daughters Vallera Joyner, Kelli Joyner, Yvonne Levette, Dean Joyner and son Joseph W. Joyner, Jr.


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