Joseph R. "Joe" Lake Jr.
1941 - 2021
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Joseph R. "Joe" Lake, Jr.

Joseph R. Lake, Jr., 79, of Hockessin, DE peacefully passed away on March 15, 2021 surrounded by his loving family in the carriage house his parents built. Joseph (Joe), a native of Hockessin was born on June 28, 1941, son of Joseph R. Lake, Sr. and Bettie Lake. Joe attended local schools, the Hockessin Elementary and Henry C. Conrad High School, from which he graduated in 1959. He served in the United States Army from 1959-1962, serving in Korea.

After his military service, Joe attended the University of Nebraska from which he graduated in 1967 with a BS majoring in history. He has done Advanced studies on business and history at the University of Delaware and at American University, Washington, DC.

Joe worked for the U.S. Justice Department Washington, DC from which he retired after 30 years of service. Joe became interested in the history of his native area in 1958 when the Hockessin Community Club sponsored the development of an audio-visual presentation on the history of Hockessin.

Joe, after seeing this presentation decided to write a pictorial history of Hockessin, with the assistance of James Bick, Carol Swayne Hurd and Kathleen Lord which was published in 1976. This was the largest single compilation of historical data and photography assembled on this picturesque and historic community. This review of Hockessin, covering the period from 1688-1976, was written by Joe, as a part of the American Bicentennial project of the Hockessin-Yorklyn-Corner Ketch Committee.

The second edition was written by Joe and published in 1997. Joe has all his life loved railroading and all of its history. He was a member and volunteered with the Wilmington Western Railroad, and the West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad, which he volunteered serving food and beverage on board the train. Joe was currently writing and near completing a book on railroads and manufactures of the same throughout the Tri-State areas, during the years of mid 1800-thru mid 1900. Joe was instrumental in the formation of the Hockessin Historical Society, Inc., which was formed in September 1999. Brian Woodcock, vice president, Sandra Pugh, secretary, Tracy Stegemeier, treasurer, which were a big help to him.

Joe was thankful for all those who helped him with the Tweeds Tavern, Brian Woodcock, Ed Hoffmeister, Joe Long, Darleen Amobi. He was also thankful to the state and New Castle County Governments and as well for helping with the Hockessin Lamborn Library.

Joe was responsible for the wording and installation of several historical markers within the Hockessin area. He also worked in his spare time at the family owned Lake's Country Store Food Market, now the present site of George's Seafood on Old Lancaster Pike.

Joe along with Sandra Pugh published the Hockessin Holler, a monthly publication of the Hockessin Historical Society. Joe's favorite hobby was purchasing, refinishing antique furniture and selling them at Singerly Fire Co. Elkton, MD, flea market, and Main St. Antiques, Newark, DE.

Joe was a life member of the Hockessin Fire Co., Partner, Hockessin Planning Partnership, Inc; Member, Former Acting Chairperson, Hockessin Village Design Review Advisory Board (HVDRAC); Currently, President, Hockessin Historical Society, Hockessin, DE, owner/operator of Tweed's Historical Complex; Past President/Member, West Chester Railroad Heritage Association(WCRHA) supporting the financing and operation of the West Chester Railroad, a tourist carrier in Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania, organization has 50 members. He was a Charter Member, Greater Hockessin Area Development Association, Hockessin, DE; Formerly, Board of Directors, Historic Red Clay Valley, Inc., Wilmington, DE; Past President, Current Secretary, Robert Kirkwood Chapter, Delaware Society Sons of the American Revolution; Frequent public speaker/lecturer on computer science, telecommunications, railroading and regional history. Joe published two books on Delaware history i.e., Hockessin-A Pictorial History, Vols. I-II, 1976-1988, and pre-publication of The Railroads and Railroad Industries of Wilmington, Delaware plus manuscripts on the other subjects prepared for publication.

Joe was predeceased by his parents, Joseph R. Lake, Sr. and Bettie Lake. He is survived by his brother, Terry Lake (Barbara), nieces, Bettie Ann Hopkins, Terri Lynn Baker (Steve), Barbara Jo Lake, Debbie McGaha (Robert).

A viewing will be held from 9-11am followed by a service at 11am on Wednesday March 24 at the Hockessin Fire Hall, 1225 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, DE 19707. (Casual attire is requested for all those attending). Burial will be held privately. Covid restrictions will be observed, Masks are required by all. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Hockessin Historical Society, P.O. Box 362 Yorklyn, DE 19736. To send messages of condolence to Joe's family visit

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The News Journal from Mar. 19 to Mar. 23, 2021.
09:00 - 11:00 AM
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
April 6, 2021
I had the honor and pleasure of working with Joe for many years. I worked with him on the Hockessin Historical Society, Tweeds Tavern and the Exhibit Hall. Tweeds Tavern and the Exhibit hall are a lasting legacy to Joe’s determination and enthusiasm for preserving Hockessin History. I appreciated his extensive knowledge of the history of the area. People who knew Joe or read his books were enriched by knowing more of local history. I was also happy to consider Joe a friend. He was a wonderful person and will be missed.
Liane Sorenson
March 30, 2021
We are very sad to hear of Joe's passing. Joe was always a pleasure to have at our auctions. We will miss seeing him. Prayers to all of your family. Jim, Jill and all of us at Hill's Auction
Hill's Auction
March 25, 2021
I worked with Joe for 12 years with the Hockessin
Historical Society. Together we wrote historical articles
about the Underground Railroad and the community,
we gave lectures at various places. We built a community
museum along with several other people. We answered
questions from our community about history.
I will definitely miss Joe and his wisdom.
Darleen Amobi
Darleen Amobi
March 24, 2021
In memory of joe , May he rest in the palms of our Lord Jesus Christ , he was a great man and so intelligent,, I worked at Booths Corner for many year and became friends with him ! I was very saddened to hear of this news, I know he will be missed by so many ! My deepest sympathy to his family ! Mary lou 3/23/21
Mary lou Steinmacher
March 23, 2021
My condolences to the family. I was praying for Joe and will be praying for you also.

In all the history of Hockessin, Joe was one of the few who actually cared so deeply about all aspects of this area, from the historic buildings, people, and events to road and community improvement projects. As much as he enjoyed preserving and sharing the history, at the same time he had his mind focused on the future for the good of everyone.

This photo of Joe was from fall 2020.
Pete Seely
March 23, 2021
Joe was a regular every Friday morning at Donut Haven Booths Corner Farmers Market - we will all miss seeing him.
Terri , Claire,Carole,Karen and Jack
Terri smith
March 23, 2021
In loving memory of a wonderful man and friend , may God Bless you and your family ! Joe you will be missed by so many people that loved you ! May you rest now Joe in the palms of our Lord Jesus Christ ! Sending my thoughts and prayers to your family ! This is a very sad, sad day , I loved talking with you joe I will really miss you !
Mary Lou Steinmacher
March 22, 2021
I considered Joe to be a good friend and one of the best things that happened to Hockessin. His work to preserve the history and heritage of Hockessin has been monumental and stands as a wonderful testimony to his love for the town. He will be sorely missed by all of us who were privileged to know him.
James H. Roser
March 22, 2021

I have known Joe half of my life and found him to be a remarkable man. Intelligent, well read, a teacher, politically astute and loved history. He was a great speaker, had a remarkable memory and was a world traveler. He spoke three foreign languages fluently. He was a great American, served his country in various places in the intelligence field. He loved Hockessin and was active in many organizations. He volunteered with the Wilmington and Western Railroad and the West Chester Railroad. He authored two books, both on Hockessin. We have lost a "Delaware Wonder." Brian R. Woodcock Past President HRCV Inc. also, Chairman of the Board of Hockessin Historical Society.
Brian R. Woodcock
March 22, 2021
My wife Sandi and I send our "Prayers for the Peace that Passeth Understanding" on the passing of Joe Lake. He indeed was a fine man, and he contributed much to our community. While I knew Joe only in passing, although I'd moved to Hockessin / North Star / Bridleshire Farms in 1978, I knew he was "the Social Glue" -- in terms of his knowledge of the Hockessin History -- that contributed so much to our community. As an avocational historian, as well, I valued that asset, and the effort that created it. We send our condolences to his family.
Sam Waltz
March 20, 2021
My husband and I knew Joe from going to Quinn's Cafe for breakfast. I always enjoyed talking to Joe and loved learning about the local history of Hockessin and (Lake Road off of Duncan Road). He was an awesome person and my prayers go out to his family. He will be missed.
Debbie Marinelli
March 20, 2021
While I didn´t know Uncle Joe like others in the family, he was family just the same. I enjoyed his books on Hockessin very much and his love of history. And the holidays were nice with him around with the rest of the family. My prayers go out to my Pop-pop Lake as I know this can´t be easy saying goodbye to his brother. I love and miss you all.
Daniel Walter
March 20, 2021
What a huge loss for the Hockessin Community. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Joe Jr and The Lake family. The Lake Family welcomed the Carey Family to Hockessin in 1959 and I have my parent's signed copies of both of Joe's books. Altho I live in FL, my heart will always be in Hockessin and while many changes have happened, that small town home feeling lives on my heart. Joe's efforts coupled with those of many others will keep that legacy going. Peace Joe!
Lee Carey Anderson
March 20, 2021
Buzzy (Terry) and family: Sorry to learn of Joe's passing. In the coming days, I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. May you find comfort in the many cherished memories that you hold in your heart.
John Lodge, Lewes DE
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