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Published: Thursday, 11/3/2005

Big E was B.G. s recreation chief

BOWLING GREEN Eli Joyce, 77, the city s first full-time recreation director, died of congestive heart failure Saturday in his home in Oregon after a long bout with the disease.

Mr. Joyce, who came to town in 1947 as a Bowling Green State University athlete on football and basketball scholarships, was recreation director for the city from 1963 until retiring in 1986.

Nicknamed by children Big E, Mr. Joyce led the city recreation program for many generations of children and adults. The late Blade columnist Don Wolfe called him in a 1982 column the founding father of Bowling Green s impressive recreation program.

In the mid 1990s, Eli Joyce Field, a popular softball field in Bowling Green City Park, was named in his honor.

Prior to his work in Bowling Green, Mr. Joyce was assistant director of recreation in Fostoria for about four years and then recreation director in Norwalk, Ohio for about seven years.

A Copley, Ohio, native, Mr. Joyce graduated from Akron South High School and, in 1951, from BGSU with a bachelor s degree in sports and physical education.

In retirement, Mr. Joyce, who lived in Oregon since 1993, enjoyed cycling, camping, and watching football in the company of his grandchildren.

His cycling tours included a 200-mile, two-day annual weekend cycling tour from Columbus to Portsmouth, Ohio, and back, and the Northwest Ohio bean ride in the Waterville, Ohio, area.

Mr. Joyce was a member of Southgate Church in Toledo and American Youth Hostels.

Surviving are his son, Douglas Joyce; daughter, Jennifer Joyce Catalano; brother, Dan Joyce, and three grandchildren.

Mr. Joyce had his body donated to the Medical University of Ohio.

Services will be private. The date has not been set.

The family suggests tributes to Southgate Church.

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