Born in Crested Butte, CO, Sept. 16, 1918 and raised in Hotchkiss and Paonia, CO. The family farmed and Joe loved the farm and was reluctant to leave. After graduation from high school at 16, his father insisted he go to business college in Denver where he was alone, working and attending school. By 1941 he was secretary to the Chief of Police in Denver when he was drafted. The Chief offered him deferrment but Joe declined as he felt a debt to America for taking in his parents from Croatia. Joe's parents had 5 sons serving during WWII. Joe became a 1st Sgt. quickly because of his clerical skills. He was offered the opportunity to go to O.C.S. and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. He served in North Africa campaign, the invasion of Italy at Salerno, Foggia, and Rome. Joe received a battlefield promotion to 1st Lt, and was awarded 3 Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star for Valor. He intended to make the Army a career but during the demobilization he was medically retired. Joe began working for the Denver Post Office in personnel, and then the PO Inspection service. During the period when the Air Force Academy was being built he was appointed by President Eisenhower to be the Postmaster. He made several innovations for mail service and was frequently honored for his service. After retiring, Joe spent time volunteering at the Deaf and Blind School, Ecumenical Social Ministry and various Rotary projects. He leaves his wife of 63 years, Patricia (nee) Van Cleave, 2 sons: James of Sun City, AZ and David of Syracuse, NY. Four grandchildren, Celena and James Jr. of Los Angeles and Brian and Laura of Syracuse. Joe was preceded in death by his twin sons, Donald and Daniel, his parents and all 13 of his siblings. Memorial gifts may be sent to ESM, 201 N. Weber, Colorado Springs, or the Wounded Warrior Project. Services to be held at a later date with burial at the USAF Academy. Special thanks to the VA and the State Veterans Nursing Home in Walsenburg, CO.
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Published in The Gazette on July 12, 2013