Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Piqua, OH
Re: Sad day for Reds Fans- Joe has Rounded 3rd and headed home!Joe passed away overni
This is a nice article about Joe from today's Enquirer:
To friends and neighbors, he was just a regular Joe -- breakfasting at the Bob Evans counter, chatting with everyone he saw, and plowing neighbors’ driveways after a snow.
But to schools and other nonprofit agencies in his native Butler County, Joe Nuxhall will be remembered as an extraordinary heavy hitter. The Ol’ Lefthander pitched in to promote elderly services tax levies and school bond issues; raised funds for troubled kids and character education; and handed out more than $450,000 in scholarships to about 400 high school seniors since 1989.
“I can’t tell you how many lives he touched,” said Sally Braun, Fairfield Community Foundation president.
But you couldn’t tell that from his everyday life. Nuxhall, born in Hamilton, lived for more than 50 years in the same modest Fairfield home where he and his wife, Donzetta, raised two sons, Phil and Kim.
If he wasn’t playing golf – or hanging out with buddies at the Joe Nuxhall Golf Center driving range managed by Kim near Hamilton’s Joyce Park – Nux loved to cut grass on his John Deere riding mower or tend to his dwarf snapdragons and other flowers.
In the winter, he’d hop on the John Deere and plow his driveway – and a few of his neighbors’ too – recalls Dr. Kim Kupper, a West Chester Township dentist and his Fairfield neighbor since 1980. Kupper called him “a great neighbor” and “not pretentious at all.”
Nuxhall began nearly every day the same way – with a 7 a.m. breakfast at the Fairfield Bob Evans Restaurant counter with his son and three friends. Waitresses would have a hot cup of coffee waiting when they saw him drive his Ford van – or 1989 Lincoln Continental – into the parking lot.
Dan Hare of Fairfield Township, one of the Bob Evans’ “counter culture” regulars, said Nuxhall didn’t mind the frequent interruptions from fans.
In a recent interview, Hare explained that Nuxhall “always makes time to talk to everybody. Some celebrities, they just want to eat their meal and move on. But Joe will talk to everybody. I think that’s a remarkable trait,” Hare is head of the Butler County Educational Service Center.
Hare, attorney Dale Lierman, remodeling company owner Mark Lewis, Kim and Joe frequently talked at Bob Evans about details for the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund, founded in 2003 to promote respect and caring in classrooms throughout the Midwest.
Cathy Milligan, a Fairfield educator since 1973, said Nuxhall had “a concern about what makes children successful in life, not just for 13 years in school. He wanted them to have a solid foundation that will carry students through the rest of their life -- to be good citizens, good employees, good parents,” said Milligan, Fairfield interim school superintendent.
Nuxhall also vigorously supported Butler County elderly services. He appeared several times on campaign literature for the countywide tax levy with his mother, Naomi Purdy, who died last summer at age 97.
Among the many lessons Nuxhall learned from his mother growing up in Hamilton was the importance of giving back to the community. “She was always participating in things at her church. She was always ready to help out,” he once told The Enquirer.
Nuxhall never just lent his name to a project or campaign. He learned the issues and talked about them at rallies, said Steve Schnabl, Hamilton Senior Citizens Inc. executive director.
“He just didn’t tell baseball stories. He wanted what he put his name on to succeed. That’s why it made so much sense to me that Kim started a character education fund,” Schnabl said.
Last spring, after doctors found four malignant tumors in Nuxhall’s leg, the character fund launched the ambitious $7.8-million Joe Nuxhall Hope Project to help underprivileged, abused or neglected children.
In addition to funding character education and scholarships, the campaign (www.joehope.org) is raising money for:
• a Reds Rookie Success League to teach baseball and character lessons to underprivileged Butler County kids at Fairfield’s Waterworks Park;
• a $2.4-million for a gym, classrooms and kitchen at Fairfield’s One Way Farm nonprofit home for abused and abandoned kids;
• and a $500,000 rubberized baseball field in Hamilton’s Joyce Park for wheelchair-bound children.
Last April's kickoff at Jungle Jim’s Oscar Event Center was a rare public look at Nuxhall’s charitable efforts. Marty Brennaman, Nuxhall’s radio partner for 31 seasons (1974-2004), said few outside Butler County knew about his commitment to kids because he didn’t talk about it.
Nuxhall taught him “a helluva lot about humility,” Brennaman said in an interview before the event. “He legitimately would not care if anybody ever knew about it, because he derives enough satisfaction by himself, in doing what he does.”
Before the Hope Project dinner, Nuxhall explained: “It’s for the kids. It’s not about me. I don’t like to blow my own horn. It’s not my nature.”
In a 2005 WCET-TV interview, Nuxhall said: “I just want people to think of me as one of the regular guys.”
After his cancer came back in September, Fairfield and Hamilton city leaders jointly announced that the road on the cities’ border to Joyce Park – with acres of baseball, football and soccer fields – would be renamed “Joe Nuxhall Way.”
Fairfield also announced plans for a life-size statue of Nuxhall helping two children by artist Tom Tsuchiya, who did the Nuxhall sculpture outside Great American Ball Park. The bronze artwork will be placed next summer at Waterworks Park, near a new concession stand and shelter to be called Joe Nuxhall Pavilion. It’s a fitting tribute to man who gave so much to kids, Braun said.
“He never said ‘No’ to anyone,” Braun said. “The legacy he leaves is one of giving, and supporting the children of Butler County. He’s made more of an impression from being a human being, than from as a ballplayer.”