At age 96, Elliott Royce attended trampoline class three times per week.
The hobby fit with his retirement routine of falling five times every morning — just for practice.
Royce taught classes on how to take falls in safe ways, so seniors might avoid serious injury during an unexpected tumble.
It was just one example of how Royce lived a life filled with unexpected pursuits that helped forge connections among the people around him.
After Royce died July 17 from complications of pneumonia, more than 400 people attended his funeral.
“He just was amazing at intuitively being able to connect the right people with the right people,” said Pat Henderson, a friend who was Royce’s trampoline coach. “It was like he was putting a puzzle together, and he had all the pieces.”
Elliott Royce, the youngest of three boys, was born in Eitel Hospital in Minneapolis.
He graduated from West High School in Minneapolis in the 1930s, and studied pharmacy at the University of Minnesota. Royce served in the Navy during World War II. In the lead-up to the war, he learned how to fly an airplane and later taught others.
His family owned pharmacies. After the war, Royce worked in the family’s new business stocking grocery stores and gas stations with items like toothbrushes that previously were available only at the drugstore, said his daughter, Sandie Kaster.
In time, he left the family business to start his own company in commercial and industrial real estate. Financial success allowed for philanthropy, Kaster said, noting how her father organized the shipment of instruments to music students in Israel.
In his eulogy, Rabbi Barry Cytron described how Royce helped an immigrant family from the Soviet Union get established in the United States.
“With that extraordinary, grace-filled gesture Elliott provided, this family set down roots, rebuilt their lives, raised and educated their children and grasped the very fullest that America has to offer,” Cytron wrote.
Royce’s remarkable retirement was occasionally chronicled in the Star Tribune.
In 1996, Royce was credited with a program that encouraged buyers of bestsellers to read them quickly, and donate the books so others might check them out at the library.
In 2002, Royce volunteered with a junior high school band, serving as both mentor and occasional tuba player.
This spring, the newspaper chronicled Royce’s work teaching seniors how to avoid injuries from falls. The article described Royce jumping rope on a trampoline, playing the baroque cello and competing in a 1-mile juggling race.
“I was the last one to finish, but I won my age division — because I was the only one in it,” he said.
Sandie Kaster recalled how her father used the word “joggling” to describe his cross of juggling and jogging. He found other ways to stay active, like walking around with his tuba.
When a recreation center in St. Louis Park opened its water slide this season, Royce assumed his usual position of being first in line to take the plunge. He rode around town on a three-wheel bicycle, and participated in parades on the bike while dressed as Dr. Seuss.
There was a joyful and somewhat kooky quality to the antics, Sandie Kaster said. But there also was something instructive in it all.
“He didn’t care if he made mistakes. He didn’t care if he looked like a clown. He absolutely scoffed at people who scoffed at him,” she said. “I think he just said: I get one life, it goes fast and I’m going to take it.”
Kaster added: “He crammed 10 lifetimes into one. It was a life incredibly lived.”
Royce is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.