She was born on her parents’ farm in Union County, South Dakota to parents Andrew (Tommy) and Sigrid Eggen. Her parents were farmers, both of Norwegian ancestry. She had an older sister Lois, an older brother Arlo, and a younger sister Sandra. She attended rural elementary schools Starr and Nora, and then went to Alcester High School in Alcester, S.D., where she and Duane were classmates.
After high school, Joyce worked at a car dealership in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for one year. During that time, she and Duane, who attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., were dating before Duane joined the U.S. Army.
She married Duane Ludwig on Dec. 29, 1956, while Duane was home on leave and within a few days they moved to Virginia where Duane was stationed at Fort Eustis, headquarters for the U.S. Army Transportation Corps. While in Virginia, she worked at Langley Air Force Base and for the Army AG Reproduction Department as a typist. During that time, she lived in off-base housing with Duane in Warwick (now Newport News) and Seaford, Va.