Joseph E. Birsa
1923 - 2020
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Joseph Birsa

Born: July 10, 1923

Died: July 27, 2020

Joseph "Joe" Birsa, passed on July 27, 2020 in Fort Myers, Florida, shortly after celebrating his recent 97th birthday. Survived by his brother, David (Bill) Birsa, two sisters in law Mary Lou (David) and Ann (Art), nieces Leanne Murray, Anita, Beth and Christie Birsa and nephew Gary Birsa. Laid to rest at his Parish, in the St. John XXIII Catholic Church Memorial Garden.

Born Joseph Edward Birsa on July 10, 1923. Joe resided in Rockdale, IL, attended St. Joseph Joliet Grade School and Joliet Township High School. After his Naval service in the South Pacific during World War II, Joe opened The Porthole Tavern in Rockdale, IL with his brother Art. The two brothers later opened and operated the Joliet Franksville Restaurant, where Joe knew many repeat customers not only by name but also by their regular order. Joe retired to Fort Myers, Florida in 1981.

Joe was involved in auto racing from the early fifties on, active in U.A.R.A. Midget Auto Racing and also drove Stock Cars on tracks around the Midwest. He was a member of the 1983 U.S.A.C. Dirt Championship Racing team, sponsored by his lifelong friend, Tim Delrose. In 2005 Joe was inducted into the Mazon Speed Bowl - Grundy County Speedway Hall of Fame.

Joe remained youthful at heart, active and independent throughout his 97 years. He stayed involved and in contact with his nieces and nephews and their children and enjoyed corresponding including text messaging! He was a devout Catholic his entire life. He enjoyed daily mass and the rosary, offering prayer intentions for so many family and friends, he said it required more than just one rosary per day to cover everyone.

Memorial donations may be made to St. Joseph Catholic church, Rockdale IL.

Racers Prayer

Lord I pray as I race today

Keep me safe along the way.

Not only me but others too

As they perform the jobs they do.

I know GOD, that in the race

I, the driver, must set the pace.

Help me Lord along the way.

Although I know I am a sinner,

Help me to believe,

that with God you're always a winner.

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Published in The Herald-News from Aug. 6 to Aug. 8, 2020.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Hodges-Kiser Funeral Home
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4 entries
August 10, 2020
Worked with Joe and Art for years at Franksville. First real job. Were great bosses. Glad to have known him. Bought many MGB auto parts from him.
steve pozzi
August 9, 2020
Joe and Art were my first bosses at Franksville, would love to have a #10 right now. Thanks Mikey!
August 6, 2020
I loved Franksville! The people there were always nice, and so were the dogs.
August 6, 2020
Joe was a friend to me and my friends who frequented Franksville in the late 60's and early 70's. He'd bring our orders and shoot the breeze with us and treated like his family. We all remember the time we spent eating our way through the menu and hanging out with Joe. RIP
Robert Rossi
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