Joseph William Matuska was born June 9, 1919 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the son of Joseph and Adeline (Fields) Matuska.
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He passed away on Monday, August 11, 2014, at HomePlace Memory Care in Burlington, WA.
Joseph grew up on the family's 480-acre homestead in Northern Colorado, where neighbors were miles away, but you could easily hear the eerie howl of wolves as you lay in bed at night. When he was a young boy, his father was often away from home, working for the Union Pacific Railroad. His mother ran the homestead and cared for her young children in their tiny one-room house. Joseph remembers her fending off rattlesnakes with her hoe and carrying water from a well that was half a mile away.
Life on the farm was difficult and Joseph learned to work hard and be independent at an early age. By age 14, he had moved off the family farm so he could attend a better high school in Cheyenne and pursue his dream of attending college someday. He cooked his own meals (lots of hamburger, potatoes and onions), cared for a house, attended school and lived on a budget of $2 per week. He remembers the bitterly cold winters riding his bike to school in blizzards and pouring bags of salt in the pipes to keep them from freezing.
His hard work paid off. After high school, Joseph put all his energy into studying electrical engineering at the University of Denver, often studying well past midnight. He "kept his nose to the grindstone," and graduated with honors. He took a job with Allied Chemical Corp., working there for nearly 40 years as an engineering manager in charge of engineering, capital additions and replacements in four chemical plants.
Joseph met his wife, Jeanne, at a ballroom dance in Detroit, Michigan. They married in 1948. Together, they raised five sons and a daughter, and lived in five different states (Illinois, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Washington).
Although he retired in 1980, Joseph never slowed down. He moved the family out West to pursue his love of fishing and hunting. He also bought an acre of land in Selah, WA and planted grape vines, dozens of fruit trees and an impressive vegetable garden. He grew peaches, pears, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries and apples. His tomatoes, peppers and onions became scrumptious homemade spaghetti sauce, and he turned his grapes into delicious homemade wines. When he ran out of grapes, he would pick wild blackberries and chokecherries to make into wine also often sharing bottles with friends, neighbors and family during special occasions. He continued to enjoy outings in his fishing boat taking several memorable fishing and crabbing trips with his grandchildren in recent years.
Joseph's friends and family have always admired him for his strong work ethic and refusal to give up no matter what challenge faced him. Even into his 90s, you could find him determinedly fixing a broken computer - or even a broken-down vehicle. He was truly an example of the amazing things a person can achieve if they "keep their nose to the grindstone."
Joseph is survived by his wife of 66 years, Jeanne; sons, Jim Matuska (BillieKay), Joseph Matuska (Linda), Jack Matuska (Coleen), Douglas Matuska (Nadya) and David Matuska (Gail); daughter, Patricia Sciuchetti (Kyle); and grandchildren, Jim, Beth, Jay, Sara, Kate, Patrick, Josef, Krista, Kade, Kaiya and Drey.
Viewing will be Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:30 am until the Funeral Mass, 10:30am at St. Charles Catholic Church 935 Peterson Rd. Burlington, WA. A reception will follow the Funeral Mass in the church's social hall. Following the reception a Graveside Service will be held at Hawthorne Memorial Park at 1:30pm.
Please share your thoughts and sign the online guest register at www.hawthornefh.com.
Arrangements are under the care Hawthorne Funeral Home, Mount Vernon, WA.
Kern Funeral Home
1122 South 3rd Street Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on Aug. 13, 2014