Joseph M. Guza, 90, of 1518 12th Ave. S., a retired captain for the Great Falls Police Department in the juvenile division, died of natural causes Thursday at Peace Hospice.
Visitation is today from noon to 5 p.m. at Schnider Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. Vigil service is 7 p.m. Monday and funeral liturgy is 12:30 p.m. Tuesday both at Our Lady of Lourdes, with burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Survivors include his wife, Edith E. Guza of Great Falls; daughters Joanne Nicolai of Lincoln and Bonnie Hocevar of Denton; sons Richard (Carmela) Guza of Butte, Mike (Shirley) Guza of Great Falls, John (Donna) Guza, and William (Jean) Guza, of Bozeman; sisters Marion Golie, Zita Loeffler and Barbara Oriet, all of Great Falls; a brother, Rudolph Guza of Great Falls; 21 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Joseph was born July 20, 1915, in Stockett to Mathias, who immigrated from what is now Slovakia, and Anna (Milot) Guza, of Pennsylvania. He was raised in Tracy and graduated from Centerville High School in 1933. He attended the College of Great Falls and the University of California. He served in the Army Air Force during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1945.
He married Edith Dolphay on Oct. 21, 1939, at St. Ann's Cathedral in Great Falls.
As a young man, he worked in the Griffith Coal Mine near Stockett and laid track for Great Northern Railroad. He joined the Great Falls Police Department in 1947, and retired as a captain of the juvenile division in 1977. During his career two GFPD police chiefs started their careers under his supervision. As a policeman, he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of children and youth. He was largely responsible for having juvenile offenders separated from and treated differently than adults. He believed that his role as a policeman was to ensure that every child involved in the legal system be given the opportunity to change and become productive adults.
In 1951, he was honored for establishing a recreation program and skating rink for students at the School for the Deaf and the Blind. Montana Gov. John W. Bonner acknowledged Joe for performing "the highest type of service a policeman can render." Joe continued to maintain and supervise this program and received national recognition from the American Broadcasting System.
He was a member of the Eagles, Knights of Columbus, Holy Name Society at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and the Retired Police Protection Association. His prayer life and taking care of those in need demonstrated his faith and deep concern for others. He was a man of commitment and integrity who came from "the old school." He showed old world hospitality to anyone who entered his home: "Have something to eat! There's salami and cheese in the fridge! Want a shot? A beer?" You always knew you were welcome at "Joe's Place."
He read widely, especially enjoying Montana history, natural history and the Great Falls Tribune. He read his Bible daily. He had profound concern for the environment and was an avid organic gardener, bird watcher, mushroom hunter and in his younger years, a fisherman. He enjoyed cooking throughout his life. In later years he enjoyed shrimping and hunting the wily oyster in the Hood Canal.
He loved his family and friends and is greatly loved.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Lawrence, Matthew and John Guza; and great-grandsons Zachary and Mathew Hocevar.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Fund.
"Kind words are short and easy to say, but their echoes are truly endless."
- Mother Teresa (One of Joe's favorite quotes.)
Send condolences online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com
Published by Great Falls Tribune from May 6 to May 7, 2006.