Alan Victor Joyce
Alan ‘Big Al’ Joyce passed away peacefully in his recliner chair at Oak Park Seniors Residence on Sunday, September 6 at the age of 97.
Born on July 2, 1923 in London, England, Alan was the only child of Amy (Allen) and Victor Joyce. Following the early death of his father when he was 16, the young Alan took care of his mother and then joined the British Army in 1942 where he served as a communications specialist in Burma and Singapore during World War II.
Upon returning to a war-torn London in 1947, Alan emigrated to Ottawa to make a new life and to bring his mother over a few years later. During his early years in Ottawa he went on a blind date, set up by his future brother- and sister-in-law (Ian Browne and Bobbee Leigh), where he met F. Elizabeth “Betty” Leigh (1927-2001) of Carleton Place, ON. With pipe in mouth and a dashing English accent connecting with stunning Nurse Betty, it was “love at first sight” and Alan and Betty married soon after in 1952, also the year when he became a Canadian citizen. Jennifer Lowry (Roland Inniss), David (Margot Joyce) and Penny (Gordon Smith) were born while the family lived in Ottawa over the next ten years.
Alan’s career in Canada as a civil servant for the federal government spanned between 1949 and 1979. He first started at the National Research Council (NRC), administering Canada’s initial endeavours to secure communications efforts. By the end of his career, he was a director general at the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE). The family fondly remembers its years in Washington, DC from 1967 to 1971 when Alan worked mainly at the Canadian Embassy on a special international joint project between Canada, the U.S and the U.K. Following his four-year assignment in Washington, Alan and his family moved back to Ottawa where he finished his career.
Alan was able to retire at age 55 and following his retirement, he and Betty enjoyed many years together travelling the globe, entertaining friends, and enjoying their grandchildren: Christopher and Ashlea Joyce, Brendan Lowry as well as Kimberley and MacKenzie Smith.
Following Betty’s passing in 2001, Alan married Norah Berry in 2002 and the two had many happy trips and times together.
Friends and family will remember Alan for his well-equipped wood working shop in the basement and his fine wood working skills which he continually honed over the years. He was an active member of the Gloucester Craftsmen’s Guild and his stall, overseen by “Banker Betty,” was always one of the busiest at the Christmas craft shows. Many a friend or family member will also have recollections (or not) of socializing while drinking Big Al’s fortified homemade wine of which there was always a full carafe on the kitchen counter for relaxing before lunch or dinner. The same artistry he displayed in his wood working also applied to Alan’s passion for gardening, of which he had great knowledge and appreciation. No matter which home he lived in, his large beds of flowers were always like English country gardens and the family’s house was a popular destination for many neighbourhood walkers. Alan was also an avid theatre-goer, a cryptic crossword expert, and an enthusiastic home hobbyist. There was no home project or challenge he could not tackle thanks to his electronic ingenuity or his wood working skills. His sharp mind, his quick-witted British sense of humour, his never-ending thirst for knowledge, as well as his dogged determination carried him well throughout his long life, especially during his final years when he gradually lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration. His stories, poetry and songs regaled in his “mid-Atlantic” accent, as well as his fine crop of brown hair that never turned grey will always be fondly remembered by friends and family.
The family thanks the staff at Oak Park Residence and Dr. Farey for taking great care of Alan in his final years.
In memory of Alan and his passion for woodworking, please plant a tree in his honour.
Cremation to take place later this week, followed by a private family gathering. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date still to be determined.