Joyce Elaine Eli was born June 6, 1927, in Princeton, to Clifford and Laura Elizabeth (Polsfuss) Hammill. She attended school in Milaca. Singing brought great joy to Joyce even singing on the radio as well as weddings and funerals. Joyce was united in marriage to Gerald Bruce Sept. 6, 1945, and chose raising a family over a career singing. After she was divorced she was united in marriage to Burnette Eli, Sept. 26, 1964. Joyce had many jobs over the years, including waitressing, working at a resort near Brainerd, selling Avon, a cook at the Milaca Hospital and working at Fingerhut in Princeton. She was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Ramey for many years where she taught Sunday School and VBS, served as youth leader and was a member of the ladies aid. She later switched to the Zion Lutheran Church in Little Falls where she enjoyed fellowship with the ladies. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Post 602 where she served as president and secretary. Her hobbies included gardening, crocheting, quilting, reading, watching sci-fi movies and spending time with family. Joyce died Sunday, July 7, 2013, at the Harmony House in Little Falls at the age of 86 years, one month and one day.
She is survived by her children, Judy Hasting of Little Falls, Gary (Robin) Bruce of Isanti, Mark (Vickie) Bruce of Milaca, David (Susie) Bruce of Mora, Trudy Graves of Royalton, Jim (Faye) Bruce of Princeton, Mary (Neil) Hoheisel of Hillman, Dale (Rhonda) Eli of Royalton, Cathy (Rick) Dullinger of Hillman and Patty (Bill) Meleen of Princeton; 33 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren; brothers and sisters, Donald (Margie) Hammill of Washington, Jerry Hammill of Princeton, Larry Hammill of Crosby and Charles (Elaine) Hammill of Milaca and other relatives and many adopted children who called her “Mom.”
She was preceded in death by parents; sons, Scott and Randy Bruce; daughters, Peggy and Pam Bruce, great-grandson, Steven Hastings; brother, Douglas Hammill; and two sisters, Joy Maxam and Deloris Jensen.
Funeral services were held Thursday, July 11, at the Bethany Lutheran Church in Ramey, with the Rev. Greg Tomhave officiating. Interment was in the Oak Knoll Cemetery in Princeton. Casketbearers were Kevin Hastings, Matt, Scott, Jonathan and Brian Bruce, Joshua Hoheisel and Chris Eli.