Obituaries are important, I feel that way not only because I am a genealogist but, because it is a printed legacy. It is a place to try to put into words a life well lived. My uncle George Joseph, who is my genealogy co-captain in our family, wrote Pap’s amazing obituary. It captures his spirit. Take a moment to see what you can do with 102 years.
Samuel Joseph, 102, the patriarch of the Joseph family and a member of America’s greatest generation, passed into eternal life on Wednesday, June 14, 2023 following a brief illness. He was born on March 28, 1921 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, the second of eight children of the late George and Margaret Ann (Peters) Joseph. Sam was a 1938 graduate of Jeannette High School, where he was a member of the Boys’Athletic Club, excelling in track at the 440. While in high school, he began working at McKee Glass Company. He later worked for Getto Distributing. On June 28, 1941, he married the love of his life, Ruth Marie Spore, and they were together for more than 66 years before her death on February 25, 2008. Together they raised and enjoyed a large and loving family, including six children – Barbara (Kenneth) Davis of Irwin; Samuel (Linda) Joseph, Jr. of Homosassa, Florida; Linda (Richard) McConnell of Irwin; Marcy Zezzo of Irwin; George (Tina) Joseph of Erie; and Geoffrey (Margie) Joseph of Greensburg. In addition, Sam loved his 13 grandchildren – Ken Davis, Jr.; Ron Davis; Marcy Lynn (Jim) Powers; Tom (Melanie) Joseph; Carrie (Julian) Muniz; Rich (Kelly) McConnell; Jr.; Michael (Stephanie) Zezzo; Darla Haller; Dan (Abigail Johnson) Joseph; Emily (Renzo Heredia) Joseph; Erin (Jon) Hartland; Bryan (Erin) Joseph; and Courtney Joseph – and 22 great-grandchildren, including: Shauna (Bradley) Doshen, Paul Davis, Wyatt Powers, Grayson Joseph, Adalynn Joseph, Samuel Melegari, Lindy Melegari, Liam Melegari, Harrison Melegari, Andres Muniz, Maddox McConnell, Cullen McConnell, Ella McConnell, Cole Zezzo, Sophie Zezzo, Carson Haller, Lillian Hartland, Luke Hartland, Elia Joseph, Sophia Joseph, Ezra Joseph, and Summer Joseph. Known affectionately by everyone simply as “Pap,” he was proud to have an extended family of nieces and nephews and their families as well. Sam was a veteran of World War II, having served his country as a member of the 17th Army Airborne Division, known by the motto “Thunder from Heaven.” He participated in the Battle of the Bulge as well as Operation Varsity and was a recipient of a Purple Heart. Helping Ruth to raise a growing family, Sam worked during the day and went to school in the evenings to learn a trade. Acquiring his skills as a pattern maker, Sam was hired and worked for the Fisher Body Division of General Motors in Dravosburg until his retirement. Thereafter, he was hired by Fisher Body as a consultant to literally write the manual on how to perform his job. Sam was not the retiring type. He never let the grass grow under his feet. Sam enjoyed many hobbies over the years, including photography, tropical fish, beekeeping, fishing, amateur radio (N3AQZ), oil painting, and woodworking. A skilled craftsman, he hand-made grandfather clocks for each of his children. In his 70s, he even attended classes at Westmoreland County Community College to learn about computers. A deeply religious man, Sam was an active member for many years at the Irwin Presbyterian Church and later at the West Hempfield Presbyterian Church, the latter at which he served as a member of the choir and as an Adult Sunday School instructor. A man of many and varied talents, Sam was always willing to help others, but he remained exceedingly humble regarding his own contributions to any task. His joy came from celebrating the accomplishments of others. He reveled in hearing the exploits of his family members. He was a serious man, but one with a keen sense of humor and storytelling abilities. More than anything, he enjoyed anything that involved being with his family, who were very important to him, and he always looked forward to family visits.In addition to his parents and his wife, Ruth, Sam was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters – Marian (Lou Menanno), Margaret (Jim Throm), John (Charlotte Ressler), Rosemary (Ted Gerhart), and Dave (Linda Patterson), as well as Catherine and George, Jr. who died in infancy. All of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren survive. The family is grateful to the care provided to Sam by the employees of Weatherwood Manor and more recently the employees of Mountain View Memory Care. In lieu of flowers thos wishing can contribute to Redstone at Home, 6 Garden Center Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, at the WILLIAM SNYDER FUNERAL HOME, INC., 521 Main St., Irwin, 724-863-1200. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in the funeral home, with the Rev. Andrew Wirt officiating, accompanied by Sam’s dear friend, Rev. Dr. John B. Simpson. Interment will follow in Twin Valley Memorial Park.