WASHINGTON - Joseph Hajny, 67, of Washington, passed away at 1:20 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, at his home with family by his side after a determined fight with pancreatic cancer.
Joe was born on Sept. 17, 1946, in Milwaukee, Wis., to Albert C. and Mary G. (Lednicky) Hajny. He married Stephanie Condo on June 13, 1970, in Peoria at the United Methodist Church. Though divorced, they remained friends. He is survived by his former wife and their sons, Todd of Morton and Matt of Washington; his brothers, Fred and wife Rose of Washington, and Rudy and wife Virginia of East Peoria; and one sister, Mary Latta and husband Irvin of Chillicothe.
Joseph retired from the Peoria Post Office where he worked for 26 years. After retirement, he drove a school bus for Allen Transportation Services. After a 13-year absence he returned to college part time in 1981 at Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois at Springfield) and graduated with honors in 1985. Joe was the first Peoria-area student to address the undergraduates at commencement in 1985.
Joseph was proud to have served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army during a very tumultuous time. He was active in veterans' functions. Joe was in charge of the Dennis Harter Memorial Education Program. For 29 years, he and other Vietnam veterans volunteered their time to educate young people about the Vietnam War. Joe also volunteered to assist with various replicas of THE WALL in several Midwest cities. He and his brother-in-law, Irvin Latta, with whom he served in Vietnam, spearheaded the committee to bring The Wall That Heals to Chillicothe in October 2007, a highly successful event. Joe was a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of Illinois; Vietnam Veterans of America 299; Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Chapter III and a member of VFW 2078. He was the author of "VIETNAM: A Catharsis in Poetry." He also spoke at various veterans' functions. He also wrote poetry on various topics and performed at open microphone events in various Illinois cities.
Joseph was a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, having attended several games at Lambeau Field and Milwaukee County Stadium. He was the proud owner of an autographed picture of quarterback Bart Starr from his year in Vietnam.
Visitation will be at Mason-White Funeral Home in Washington from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.
Access to the funeral home is best by coming from the Washington Square west to Wilmore Road, then one block south of Business 24 on Valley Forge Road. A celebration of Joseph's life will be held at the end of visitation with military rites being accorded. Officiating will be Irvin Latta, brother-in-law. Burial will be on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at 1 p.m. at Rock Island National Cemetery, where additional honors will be accorded.
Donations may be made to Vietnam Veterans of Illinois in Sunnyland or to Mid-Illinois Hematology and Oncology Center in Normal.
Online condolences to the family may be made at masonfuneralhomes.com.