Joseph J. Scherf
1923 - 2021
Joe Scherf passed away January 11, 2021 in Ukiah, CA, due to Covid-19 complications. While he lived in Ukiah for most of his life, Joe was born September 22, 1923 in New York City. During the Great Depression his mother couldn't work and take care of her boys, so she put Joe and his older brother, Rip, into the Gould Foundation Orphanage. With a positive outlook on life, Joe would say that his time at the orphanage wasn't bad because they went to the circus during winter and the Catskills every summer. Fortunately, after a few years his mother was able to reunite their family. He joined the Boy Scouts when he was 13 and eventually became an Eagle Scout. He held the record for camping out more than any other scout in NY City for two years in a row.
During World War II, Joe served as a Cryptographer in India, Burma (now Myanmar) and China. His outfit was the 490th Medium Bombardment Squadron aka the "Bridge Busters." He enjoyed being in the Army, he said, because "I got three square meals a day." On the troop carrier home, he made a life changing decision to work outdoors as a Forester.
After graduating from Purdue University, he and his new wife, Harriet Scherf (Wisniewski) moved to California. They eventually settled in Ukiah where Joe worked as a Forester for Masonite Corporation for 12 years. In 1963 Joe obtained his land surveyor's license and started his Land Surveying business. He surveyed every corner of Mendocino County and had stories about many of the ranches and roads he traveled.
As an Eagle Scout in his youth, it is not surprising that Joe became a scoutmaster when he had a family. Joe and Harriet raised four children, Beverly, Lynn, John and Jim. Unfortunately, Harriet passed away in 1968. Joe later married Marian Rupe Scherf (formerly Courtney) and was joined by stepchildren Ronda, Jerry, and Connie.
Joe was quite active in the California Land Surveyor's Association, serving two years as president. In 1980, he formed Scherf & Rau, a Surveying & Civil Engineering firm, with his good friend, George Rau. Amazingly fit, Joe didn't retire until age 80, but that didn't stop him from being a very active member in the community.
Joe was a remarkable man! He touched many people through his career, friendships and volunteer efforts. He served as president of both the Rotary Club and the Grace Hudson Museum. Joe was honored for his volunteer work at the Mendocino County Library in Ukiah, shelving books six days a week for ten years. As a voracious reader it was a perfect fit. He read almost every book in the library except for romance novels and the Bible.
He retired from his volunteer efforts at age 90 but continued his active lifestyle. He would share that his secret to longevity was walking in the woods most of his life. He continued to walk a mile a day, at a brisk pace, in his signature Pendleton shirts that he wore year-round, until age 95.
Joe is survived by his wife Marian, daughter Beverly, sons John and Jim, stepson Jerry Courtney, stepdaughter Connie Bible and a gaggle of grandchildren and great-grand children. He is preceded in death by Harriet, daughter Lynn and his stepdaughter Ronda Courtney.
In lieu of a service, please send any stories or comments you have about Joe to his son, John at email@example.com and he will compile them and forward them to the family.
Published in Press Democrat on Jan. 24, 2021.