Sugar Land, TX—Joyce M. Barrows, founder & chief financial officer of Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation, passed away from prolonged surgical complications on Sunday, February 10, 2019. She was 83.
Joyce’s dedication to her family, including her three sons Bob Jr., Steve and Gary, as well as to her company and the Natural Products Industry, are remembered by many, among them WholeFoods Magazine publisher Heather Wainer. “I only had the privilege of meeting Joyce a few times, but each time I felt her compassion, dedication and pride in her company and her sons. Being a family business too, we have lots of parallels that I would discuss with Bob and Gary and I always admired how they spoke of their mother. The Barrows have always felt like extended family to me and I appreciate what they all have done. I know that Joyce made a huge impression on all of us and will be truly missed.”
Born August 5, 1935 in Bottineau, North Dakota to Elmer and Ruth (Volker) Jacques, Joyce was the second oldest of four children (Gayle, Bud and Judy) who lived and worked on the family farm. Her work ethic later in life, according to a release from the company, was a result of her years on the farm.
Bluebonnet detailed the contributions Joyce made since the company’s inception in 1991, grooming her sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be instrumental in nurturing the success of the brand for generations to come.
The seed for Bluebonnet was planted by Joyce’s younger son Gary, a sales rep for supplement brands, who approached her to consider starting a vitamin company. Joyce was 55 at the time, but when most people are starting to think about retirement, she inspired her son to act on his vision.
Bluebonnet Nutrition was formed in 1991, and seven years later the growth enjoyed by the brand led Joyce to champion the construction of new headquarters in Sugar Land. Next, Joyce and Bob Sr., her husband and Bluebonnet CEO, oversaw the construction of a 100,000 square foot kosher-certified, GMP-compliant manufacturing and distribution facility.
“In the beginning years of Bluebonnet,” Gary recalls, “I would go out and sell the product while mom would do all the heavy lifting on the inside by receiving, packing, shipping and invoicing the order, and then collecting payment. While I was out in the field introducing Bluebonnet to any retailer who would listen, she basically took care of all the back-end operations until my brother Steve came on board to oversee fulfillment. Her role then shifted to focusing on the company’s finances. Since we were growing exponentially each year, it was a blessing to have mom there to financially manage that growth.”
“Not only was she a financial wizard, she was a terrific wife for six decades,” says Bob Sr., who met Joyce at North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1955, married her five days after graduating college in 1958 and started a family shortly thereafter. “Encouraging, upstanding and emotionally intelligent. She understood people. She knew which button to push to not only make everyone feel good but to also get what she wanted out of them in order to get the job done right.”
After raising their three sons for 10 years, Joyce began working as a teacher focusing on math and special education. Her patience in handling special needs children along with her math skills, Bob Jr. says, groomed her for being an incredible mentor, manager and financial shepherd of the Bluebonnet enterprise.
By 1999, Bob Sr. and Bob Jr. left their respective careers to work full-time at Bluebonnet. With each immediate family member on board full time, Joyce turned her focus to the financial growth and expansion needs of the company for the next 20 years.
“Until just 18 months ago, Joyce was knee deep in securing the financial means for Bluebonnet to vastly increase our manufacturing capacity to keep up with our current and future growth,” Gary says. “Today, Bluebonnet employs more than 200 employees and is about to break ground on an additional 105,000-sq-ft technologically advanced manufacturing facility across from the company’s headquarters. This milestone was achieved not only because of her foresight, but because of her incredible ability to pass on her wisdom and business prowess to a whole new generation of family members and employees.”
Joyce is survived by her husband of 60 years, Bob Sr., her sons Bob Jr., Steve and Gary, eight grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.