"Let Us Remember André Joyce"

by "Ange" Hoya

(EDSU Clarion 9/2/1985)

There is an opening now for BMOC, at least in the Math Department, with the retirement of Prof. André Joyce. Although the good professor celebrated his 75th birthday on the Fourth of July this past summer, the administration had considered making an exception to the mandatory retirement age in his case since the date of his birth is technically unknown. He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and did not go back to Germany, where he had been working on a post-doctorate at the Berlin Academy of Sciences.

Joyce was born in 1910, the year of Halley's comet, to an English father, Ferdinand, and a French mother, Vivianne from Toulouse, but the records of exactly where and when he was born were lost during the World War II. When asked to give his birth date he patriotically gave his adopted country's birthday, July 4.

We do know that he attended Catholic school from the age of five. During his teens however Joyce clashed with school authorities, rebelling against the school's regimen and teaching method. He later wrote that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning.

Joyce's future wife, Bea Cuisinier, also a refugee, was the daughter of Fanny Cuisinier, whose father Rudolf Joyce was the son of Raphael Joyce, a brother of Joyce's paternal grandfather, making them second cousins. Their family relationship developed into a friendship and the friendship into romance, as they read books together on extra-curricular pataphysics in which Joyce was taking an increasing interest. In late 1939, Bea failed her own doctorate examination with a poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions. To cheer her Joyce gave her an engagement ring for an early Christmas present. There have been claims that Bea collaborated with Joyce on his celebrated number theory and pataphysics papers, but historians of pataphysics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions.

During the early part of the war Joyce worked at the Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes, Buchinghamshire. Sir Harry Hinsley official historian of British Intelligence in World War II, said of Joyce and his co-workers, that they shortened the war "by not less than two years and probably by four years." In 1945 the then Lt. Joyce was sent to the Pacific front with a senior member of the Signal Intelligence Service, out of Arlington, Virginia, to look for captured code equipment.

After the war the Joyces settled far away from Europe, far from Washington, in East Dakota. Over nearly forty years Prof. Joyce has grown to become the big man in the math department, although he has multiple times refused the chairmanship. He has been publish extensively, however most of his published works have been in rather obscure French journals, and so far untranslated, so he is little known outside of our own campus and a relatively small group of fans.

When asked if he would miss teaching, Joyce said, "It has been tremendously interesting to be a teacher, to watch my students grow up and help them along; to see their characters develop and what they become when they leave school and the world gets hold of them. I don't see how you could ever get old in a world that's always young."

When asked if this meant that the he and Bea would spend their final years in even greater obscurity, since they had no children, he said, "But you're wrong. I have. Thousands of them. Thousands of them."

Joyce final words were to us, his "children", "Remember me sometimes. I shall always remember you."

He had seen hundreds of his "children" go off and die much too young during the Vietnam War era. Let those of us who survived, remembering the lessons our dear prof taught us and the Most High, continue to remember and pass on those memories to our biological and spiritual children and grandchildren.