Eli "Big E" Joyce
{ "" }
Share Eli's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Mr. Eli Joyce, often referred to as "Big E" by children playing on what is now named "Eli Joyce Field", a popular softball field in Bowling Green City Park, died in his home, October 31, 2005, after a long battle with congestive heart failure, and diabetes, at the age of 77. Born in Copley, Ohio on February 28th, 1928, Eli was the 11th of 12 children.
Eli was preceded in death by 9 brothers and 1 sister. The family later moved to a Croatian neighborhood on Clay Drive in Akron, Ohio. After high school graduation from Akron South, Eli attended Bowling Green State University on football and basketball scholarships and completed his degree in sports and physical education in 1951.
For 35 years, Eli worked for Parks and Recreation in several cites, retiring after 23 with the City of Bowling Green where he led the recreation program for several generations of children. He is remembered as a gentle soul who was never too busy to play a game of rock, paper and scissors with the local kids. Outside of organizing countless recreation programs for adults and children, Eli's later years were spent enjoying cycling. For nearly 15 years he took part in TOSRV, a 200 mile annual week-end cycling tour between Columbus and Portsmouth in southern Ohio as well as the Northwest Ohio beanride.
Mr. Joyce is survived by his two children, Douglas Joyce of Oregon, Ohio and Jennifer Joyce Catalano of Belleair, Florida, as well as Doug's wife, Denise and son, Brian and Jennifer's husband, John and daughters, Nicole and Lauren.
Always a hit with youngsters, Brian remembers camping, going out for pizza together and watching football games with his Grandpa, while Nicole remembers playing game after game of Go Fish. Eli's family know that he is already leading a group of believers in Heaven on a tour for riding his bike again was his last wish.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Southgate Church, 1217 Prouty Ave., Toledo, OH 43609.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Blade from Nov. 2 to Nov. 3, 2005.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
5 entries
November 9, 2005
My first memory of Eli Joyce was in the late 1960’s at Conneaut Elementary School, where he would occasionally visit our Gym class. He would hold a basketball high over his head and allow a swarm of grade-schoolers to claw on him to try to wrestle the ball away.

When I was 12 I read in the newspaper a notice of weekly bike rides led by Eli. My first ride with the group, comprised of Eli, Bob Beard and others, was a 12 mile round trip to Tontogany. Eli helped me (and countless others) get hooked on bicycling.

Eli was a champion of kids and touched so many people in such a positive way. His ability to relate to children and teens during a time period that defined the term “generation gap” is a testament to his gentle spirit and kind words. He was a fixture of Bowling Green and a symbol of the goodness of small town values that Bowling Green embodies.
Andy Fichthorn
November 3, 2005
I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of 'Big E,' a personal hero of mine. I grew up in Bowling Green and made the City Park my home away from home every summer. While I was not the easiest teen for folks to interact with, Eli always treated me with respect and dignity. Eli was able to find the good in all kids and found ways to include them into the parks program in significant ways. He was my first employer, running the Rec Building Games Room and scoring softball games.

He was a good friend of my father Gerry Saddlemire. Many of my fondest memories are of riding bikes with my Dad and Eli, particularly on the annual TOSRV trip.

My greatest regret is that my 5 month old son will never have a chance to meet this gentle, caring man. However, he will always have a connection. My wife and I named our son Eli Gerald in honor of 'Big E' and my dad. His legacy lives on in the hearts of the countless kids he impacted throughout his life. God bless you Eli, you will be missed, but never forgotten.
John Saddlemire
November 3, 2005
I have only wonderful memories of Eli - I met him when I was 7 years old in Norwalk, Ohio where he and his wife Dorothy, were the Recreation Directors. He was the one who gave me the nickname of Timmy and I am called by that name today by friends. He was one of the finest adults I knew while growing up - almost one of the family. My friend, Ann K., and I would go up to his house in Norwalk and help Dorothy "clean" just to be around this wonderful family - He loved children and adults alike. I went on many bike rides with them while growing up in Norwalk and later on in BG. I believe Eli is now on the Heavenly Recreation Board and biking daily and making all kinds of friends with the children! We send our love and sympathy to the family. Lovingly, Dennis & Elaine Lochner, Union, Ohio.
Elaine (Timmy) Timmerman Lochner
November 2, 2005
I have fond memories of Eli. He was always smiling and pleasant to me when I came over to visit Denise. His family is in my prayers. May God give them peace and comfort.
Cindy Newton
November 2, 2005
I'm a former resident on BG, and worked on a crew with Eli and Bob Beard for many years. A good, gentle giant of a man! Don't think I ever heard him raise his voice. Also did my first TOSRV in 1976, and Eli was there to encourage me.

Be well, God bless!!

Dan Henige
Dan Henige
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences